“Defiance” should have been a better movie, but I found it quite underwhelming. I think the bigger picture was completely missed here. A great movie could have been made. Edward Zwick, the director, is very gifted at merging incredible action with intelligence and human emotion. Movies like “The Siege”, “The Last Samurai”, and “Blood Diamond” are all movies that have been some of the best action thrillers of recent years. With “Defiance” I think he is working with a significantly weak script.
The story here involves a group of Jewish brothers played by Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell. Each of whom I found very miscast in these roles. They are all some of the best actors working, but I didn’t really buy in to their accents. They escape from Nazi-occupied Poland into the Belarussian forest, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavour to build a village in order to protect themselves and others in danger. But I found that the movie lingered too long on the personal drama’s between the villages inhabitants, and not enough was devoted to these peoples actual hardships.
The Nazi’s are always an off screen threat. I never really felt that the village was in real danger. We see nothing of the atrocities other then the results from a few gun battles. And when the gun battles took place, the protagonists of the movies always seemed to hand it to their Nazi enemies.
I will say that this movie looks terrific. The movie spares no expense on set pieces and battle scenes. Director Edward Zwick does bring a visual artistry to everything he does. I just think that this time there is no real weight to the script and that the story is not fully fleshed out.