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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 Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Movies often act as a window on the past, and this wartime drama combines the POW setting of "Stalag 17" with the courtroom drama of "A Few Good Men." Set in 1944 in Augsberg, Germany, "Hart's War" takes its name from a young staff officer, Lt. Tommy Hart (Colin Farrell), a senator's son, who finds himself embroiled in blatant racial bigotry when he's captured by Nazis, brutally interrogated and imprisoned in Stalag VI. Col. William McNamara (Bruce Willis), the highest-ranking U.S. officer in the camp, assigns Hart to keep an eye on two black Tuskegee-trained Airmen, one of whom is set up for execution by a bigoted staff sergeant (Cole Hauser). Then the staff sergeant is killed with the remaining pilot (Terrence Howard) standing over his body. Rather than allowing the suspected culprit to be shot, the shrewd, seemingly opportunistic McNamara persuades the austere yet courtly German Commandant (Marcel Iures) - who loathes Russian prisoners but is more tolerant of Americans - to stage a formal court-martial to determine the pilot's guilt. The only lawyer in camp is designated prosecutor so, since in civilian life Hart was a second-year Yale law student, he's assigned to the defense - and the crafty Commandant, a Yale alum, supplies Hart with a military law manual. But that precedes an unexpected third-act plot turn that truly twists the barbed wire fence. While much of the script by Billy Ray and Terry George, based on John Katzenbach's novel, is overtly cliché'd, even jingoistic, Gregory Hoblit's direction is solid. Rachel Portman's score is quite evocative, as is Alar Kivilo's stark cinematography, filmed in the Czech town of Milovice, near Prague. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Hart's War" is a preachy, unrealistic 6, blatantly battling for social justice.

Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger

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