Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
Watch On
  1. It's an exciting action spectacle and a thoughtful, cumulatively moving family drama.
  2. Reviewed by: Gene Newman
    88
    The perfect antidote to the post-holiday blues. It's exciting, well-acted, touching, and genuine.
  3. It's a heroic story, and Zwick frames it rather too strenuously as an antidote to the generic Holocaust stories of Jewish passivity and martyrdom. And yet, as a piece of historical redress, a great service has been done in bringing this narrative to the screen.
  4. 75
    The battle scenes are well choreographed and contain enough uncertainty to make them genuinely exciting, but one would expect no less from a man who has overseen Civil War engagements (Glory) and Japanese strife (The Last Samurai).
  5. Here, Jews are not victims of genocide, but victors in the organized resistance against it.
  6. 75
    Remarkable, unheralded story.
  7. 75
    The film isn't much of a character study; too many of its secondary characters are stereotypes, and it never fully engages our emotions the way "Schindler's List" or "The Pianist" did.
  8. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    70
    Defiance says that it took grit, desperation and courage under fire to say, "Not this time," and fire back. Beyond that, it's a pretty good movie -- a bold, uneasy mix of romance, political debate and vigorous action.
  9. 70
    Defiance, as it turns out, makes insistent emotional demands, and those who respond to it at all, as I did, are likely to go all the way and even come out of it feeling slightly stunned.
  10. 70
    It's impossible to watch Defiance without experiencing a vicarious thrill of resistance and revenge.
  11. Zwick offers excitingly staged moments, but once you get past the novelty of WWII Jews acting this heroically macho, Defiance bogs down in a not very well-developed script.
  12. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    67
    Zwick may be the definition of a modern blockbuster filmmaker, but he's also spent his entire career struggling to find the balance between opposing impulses – the sentimentalist's desire for emotional-historical heft and the artist's fascination with conflicted humanity – a struggle that's all over Defiance.
  13. Reviewed by: Jason Buchanan
    63
    A Holocaust film that's light on sentimentality but high on human drama, Defiance tells one of those remarkable survival stories that's so incredible it must be true.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    63
    The tale of the resistance movement in Belorussia is undeniably inspiring and ideally suited for a cinematic rendering. But Defiance resists bold, passionate storytelling and delivers something rather conventional.
  15. 63
    This promising premise is turned into basically an overgrown TV movie.
  16. 63
    The best performance, because it's more nuanced, is by Liev Schreiber. His Zus Bielski is more concerned with the big picture, more ideological, more driven by tactics.
  17. 63
    For all the film's flaws, this is a war story told with passion about a band of brothers that still has the power to inspire.
  18. The film should've aimed higher, given all that these people endured to have their story told.
User Score
5.8

Mixed or average reviews- based on 147 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 47
  2. Negative: 8 out of 47
  1. Sep 27, 2011
    7
    I don't understand the decent reviews. Daniel Craig gives his best in "Defiance", as well as Edward Zwick. He realistically potrays the horrorI don't understand the decent reviews. Daniel Craig gives his best in "Defiance", as well as Edward Zwick. He realistically potrays the horror and advesities the jews had to suffer. Despite the tedious pace, "Defiance" is still a great movie you will want to watch. Full Review »
  2. Mar 26, 2015
    10
    This film is America's way of glorifying unsung heroes of some of the world's darkest eras. I love it, and I doubt I'm alone. The acting isThis film is America's way of glorifying unsung heroes of some of the world's darkest eras. I love it, and I doubt I'm alone. The acting is great, the setting is portrayed perfectly, and it brilliantly balances drama with action and not too much cheese. At the time of my review, its on Netflix so what's there to lose?! Full Review »
  3. Sep 20, 2014
    5
    Defiance proves that not any Holocaust retelling makes for quality film. This one is extremely underwhelming, despite actual promise. ThereDefiance proves that not any Holocaust retelling makes for quality film. This one is extremely underwhelming, despite actual promise. There are moments of intense, genuine drama; however, it's hidden beneath several awkward performances. Full Review »