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Hart's War

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Hart's War

Starring: Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Rated: R
RunTime: 125 Minutes
Release Date: February 2002
Genres: Drama, War

*Also starring: Terrence DaShon Howard, Cole Hauser, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Rory Cochrane, Sam Worthington, Rick Ravanello, Marcel Iures

Review by Liz Quinn
3½ stars out of 4

"Hart's War," is a war movie that defines heroism. Unlike most war movies, it goes beyond pure violence and bloodshed. It encompasses multiple themes of honor, manhood, and racial prejudice. It is an action film as well as a drama. "Hart's War," focuses on the individual's battle to overcome prejudice and seek justice.

Bruce Willis plays the callous and abrupt Col. McNamara, a fourth generation West Pointer and the highest-ranking U.S. officer. Though somewhat memorable, his performance is overshadowed by that of Terrence Howard, as Lieutenant Scott the black lieutenant convicted of killing the racist white soldier, Sgt. Bedford (Cole Hauser), and Col. Visser (Marcel Iures) the cruel Nazi commander, who make the film. "Hart's War," is a straightforward film that doesn't get caught up in special effects in place of story.

Set in the 1940's it is the story of prisoners of war in Germany taken over by the Nazis. Yet despite battling the German foe, the men are faced with their own inner demons of prejudice amongst themselves, when two black lieutenants Lt. Archer (Vicellous Shannon) and Lt. Scott are taken in. Even though they are all fighting on the same side, the two black men face abuse and animosity from the other prisoners.

Staff Sgt. Bedford plants a weapon on Lt. Archer and he is taken outside and shot in the chest twice by Col. Visser for supposedly trying to escape. His punishment is extreme and cruel for the crime he was framed for.

After Lt. Archer is executed Sgt. Bedford is murdered and Lt. Scott is accused of the crime. A trial is set to take place. Col. McNamara asks Lt. Hart (Colin Farrell), who went to law school for two years, to act as Lt. Scott's attorney. Lt. Scott is angered to learn that Lt. Hart, who is not really a lawyer, will represent him but a real lawyer will prosecute him.

Lt. Scott professes his innocence to Lt. Hart and explains how hard he and Lt. Archer had to work to serve their country in a fashion other than a colored man would by being a cook or having some other job viewed as menial. They were two lieutenants yet they were not treated with the respect they deserved as such that a white lieutenant would receive. Lt. Scott and Archer were assigned to sleep with the other soldiers when it was customary for lieutenants to have their own quarters.

As the plot unravels, Lt. Hart discovers that Sgt. Bedford, a bigot hated by most of the men, was killed by Col. McNamara for trading information to the Germans and the trial was a farce planned by McNamara as a distraction for the Germans, while the other soldiers escaped by way of an underground route. McNamara murdered Sgt. Bedford fearful that he would leak information of the escape tunnel to the Germans.

When Hart discovers the truth he reveals it to Lt. Scott, who he knows will be convicted of the murder and executed. But is it fair for one honorable man to die for the good of the majority? The answer to this question is at the heart of the movie and will only be answered when you go see the movie, which I highly recommend.

Copyright 2002 Liz Quinn

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