MOVIE REVIEW: “Defiance” stars Daniel Craig (Spectre, Logan Lucky), Liev Schreiber (Isle of Dogs, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Jamie Bell (Fantastic Four , Billy Elliot), Alexa Davalos (The Chronicles of Riddick, The Mist ), Allan Corduner (The Merchant of Venice, Mr. Nobody), Mark Feuerstein (What Women Want, Royal Pains [TV series]), Thomas Arana (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Bourne Supremacy), Ravil Isyanov (K-19: The Widowmaker, GoldenEye), Jacek Koman (Moulin Rouge!, Children of Men), Sam Spruell (Snow White and the Huntsman, Legend ), Jonjo O’Neill (Oasis, Constantine [TV series]), and Mia Wasikowska (Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Kids Are All Right). It is directed by Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back), who also wrote the screenplay with Clayton Frohman (Under Fire, Checkered Flag). Based on a true story, this film follows the Bielski brothers, who create a safe haven in the Belarussian forests for Jews to escape the Nazis.
It’s never a light affair when you see a movie centered around the Holocaust. “Defiance” is no exception. Directed by Edward Zwick, this film depicts the true story of brothers who aid their Jewish brethren by hiding them in the woods, outliving the Nazi-occupied Europe and saving over a thousand lives in the process. It’s an interesting story, backed by great performances and awesome cinematography. Zwick knows how to direct a feature, having successfully done so with “The Last Samurai” a few years prior. He also likes projects involving a small group fighting against a larger power when you compare these two flicks (every director has their drawl). For the most part, I enjoyed “Defiance.” It’s not the greatest film I’ve seen set in the Holocaust years (leave that to “Schindler’s List”), but it gets the job done and is a solid watch overall. I thought the acting was great, with some class acts by Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell respectfully. They steered this ship alongside Zwick’s great direction, which led to some picturesque shots, thrilling action sequences, and intense moments. Granted, this isn’t a picture that’ll have you hanging on the edge of your seat the entire time. Most of it is reserved, with a few sharp moments to keep you on your toes. Obviously, you wonder who will make it out alive, given how crazy the odds are stacked against our characters. However, there’s also an edge in just how far these people are willing to go, always balancing themselves between humans and animals (they are being hunted as such after all). I think that’s the biggest theme to be found in “Defiance”: holding onto your humanity in a world where it seems lost. It’s a tough pill to swallow, and for the most part it is conveyed well in the movie. Really, there isn’t anything terrible about it, besides a few aspects that may not pack as much of a punch as you’d want. My biggest pick about “Defiance” would be its characters. While there is a solid group to watch, there isn’t as strong of character development as I would like. This is a film focused more so on the conflict than the characters, however I believe if these figures were carved out more we’d be more on the edge with them. “The Last Samurai” had both a captivating conflict and characters. You not only witnessed a problem unfold, but also characters unravel because of this (most of which was initiative rather than reactionary to the conflict). I love to see characters go through a lot to come out a different person, and while “Defiance” had its moments, I wasn’t as enthralled with these brothers as I wanted to be. Mind you, this isn’t a huge deal, but big enough to keep it from ascending to top-tier status. For the most part, “Defiance” delivers a solid experience with a strong theme. I would recommend it to people looking for a good feature to watch about humanity and fighting against all odds. FINAL SCORE: 87%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: