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Movie Review

It’s late 1944. World War II is dragging on and Lt. Hart, a staff officer who never expected to go near the front lines, suddenly finds himself a prisoner of war after stumbling upon the German counterattack that came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. He’s sent to the bleak Nazi Stalag VI "facility," where he meets two indomitable men who play key roles throughout the story, one a fellow prisoner (Col. McNamara, a fourth-generation West Point graduate), the other the camp commandant (German Col. Visser). Then the Americans are thrown into turmoil when two African-American POWs arrive; both from the famed Tuskegee Airmen. SSgt. Bedford, a vicious racist, harasses the two black officers, refusing to recognize their rank. One night Bedford is found murdered outside the barracks. Naturally, Lt. Scott, one of the Tuskegee pilots, is accused of the murder, and Hart, a second-year law student, finds himself Scott’s appointed defense attorney for the upcoming court martial. But everything is not as it first appears.

positive elements: Col. McNamara possesses a strong spirit of duty and honor, as do many of the Americans in the camp. Several times soldiers offer to lay down their lives for the good of others. Even though prisoners, the Americans continue to fight the Nazis through resistance and an act of sabotage. American soldiers share their meager rations with Russian POWs on the other side of the compound, even under threat of death.

spiritual content: An American officer gives his Bible to Lt. Scott, who is being held in solitary confinement.

nudity and sexual content: No sexual content, but moviegoers watch naked prisoners being deloused and catch a glimpse of a naked and beaten POW.

violent content: For a war movie, the action sequences play only a minor role. Still, they are extremely violent. An American is shot pointblank in the head, splattering his brains over another soldier. A soldier crashes a jeep and winds up in a ditch full of frozen corpses. American planes strafe a train station, mistakenly attacking trains holding American POWs. Bombs destroy nearby buildings, and a train car explodes, sending bodies and body parts flying through the air. Prisoners are hanged. A German plane is shot down and crashes in the middle of the POW camp, plowing over several prisoners and igniting several others in a fireball. A soldier is killed by summary firing squad, and another is executed with a shot to the forehead.

crude or profane language: Nearly two-dozen obscenities and vulgarities including f- and s-words. The Lord’s name is abused about six times. The Tuskegee airmen are called "n-gger" many times. Soldier refers to a German officer as "a real prick."

drug and alcohol content: Lt. Hart is delivering a case of champagne when captured. The German commandant shares a glass of brandy with Col. McNamara. POWs make homemade "hootch" with a bit of turpentine thrown in "for better flavor." Smoking is also commonplace.

other negative elements: POWs engage in a flatulence-lighting contest.

conclusion: Hart’s War is a tense psychological thriller with World War II playing a secondary role. You find yourself with shifting allegiances as you learn more about individual men, their motives and what really happened to the murdered man. At one point a character might be sympathetic, but then you’re not sure. In the end, in one final act of courage and honor, all is explained.

The pros: Hart’s War contains strong messages of honor, duty and courage, both physical and moral. The cons: Foul language. Also, while the war violence takes up only a few minutes in a two-hour film, it is intense.

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Bruce Willis as Col. William McNamara; Colin Farrell as Lt. Thomas Hart; Terrence Howard as Lt. Lincoln Scott; Cole Hauser as SSgt. Vic Bedford; Marcel Iures as Col. Werner Visser


Gregory Hoblit ( )





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Tom Neven

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