User Score
5.7

Mixed or average reviews- based on 143 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 90 out of 143
  2. Negative: 45 out of 143

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. Sep 20, 2014
    5
    Defiance 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.
  2. Jul 20, 2014
    4
    Defiance: 4 out of 10: I have a soft spot for director Edward Zwick. I have a real soft spot for his Blood Diamond flick despite its pedestrian script and subconscious racism. In addition, The Last Samurai is another film of his that I loved despite its historical inaccuracies and bizarre lead casting. Defiance shares many of the same endemic faults that plagued those two films. I was not able to brush the faults off this time; I found them even more discordant as the film went on.

    Problem number one is Daniel Craig. He does not look like an Eastern Polish Jew. He looks like he misplaced his Oberstleutnant uniform at the Wehrmacht’s cleaners. Even if you were able to accept Daniel Craig as some sort of Paul Newman style Jew who parachuted into Eastern Europe, only Helen Keller would buy him as Lev Schreiber’s brother. A mutant dancing Australian is a more believable brother for Schreiber than Craig is.

    In fact, Craig and Schreiber seem to be in two different films and Schreiber is in the much better one. Schreiber seems to be in the here and now with a strong subtle performance that is the best thing in the film. Daniel Craig’s performance is as shaky as his accent. He, of course, is forced to do things like give Braveheart speeches from the back of a white horse, so the fault is hardly his alone. And saying platitudes such as “Our vengeance is to live" and "Every day of freedom is like an act of faith" while gazing at the camera with those, just give me an Oscar and I will go back to entertaining you, baby blues doesn't help his cause either.

    Problem number Two is best summarized by one of my favorite ladies I don't think we really need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It is like, how many have there been, you know. We get it. It was grim. Move on. No, I am doing it because I have noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust you are guaranteed an Oscar ... That is why I am doing it. Schindler's bloody List. The Pianist. Oscars coming out of their arse.

    — Kate Winslet (Winner of the 2008 Best Actress Oscar for Holocaust drama The Reader) in Extras, 2005

    Defiance is clearly Oscar bait. In one scene Daniel “Moses” Craig leads his people through the reeds and swamps and away from the forest (and inexplicably away from decent cover and fortifications) until a Rabbi collapses, sputters out "I almost lost my faith but you were sent by God to save us” and then promptly dies... oy vey. It really is not that easy to make a mainstream Holocaust film, release it in December, and get no nominations* for Golden Globes or Oscars. Defiance is clearly trying too hard.

    The third problem is that a third rate cast of Fiddler on the Roof somehow showed up lost in the woods. Somebody call the Jewish stereotype prison, cause there has been a mass escape. Everyone is here. The nebbish intellectual who cannot hammer a nail, the passive Jews who are unwilling to fight, the greedy Jew more interested in money than his fellow man. Good lord, it is as if Leni Reisenthal’s travelling troop of stereotypes showed up. Thank goodness, Daniel Craig is here to straighten them all out and lead them to the Promised Land. Yup blond blue eyed Daniel Craig…. Yeah the movie has issues.

    *No nominations except, inexplicably, for its score; which at two hours of crying violins will test any ones nerves.
    Expand
  3. Aug 2, 2013
    3
    Neither smart, nor bright sci-fi that has poor characters, bad screenplay, cheap effects and stupid dialogs. Recommended only if there's nothing else to see (which is unlikely to happen).
  4. Jul 7, 2013
    10
    Daniel Craig will always be associated with the James Bond film franchise having tackled the lead role in two highly successful Bond movies (with a few more on the horizon). Craig's superb as the super-spy and boy can he handle action scenes. But Craig's not just Bond. He's taken on a diverse collection of film roles over the past 15 years, delivering outstanding performances as a killer in Infamous, a member of the Israeli team assembled after the massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, and a business man never referred to by name whose plans for retirement from the drug trade are put on hold in Layer Cake. Craig adds yet another exceptional performance to his resume with his starring role in the dramatic thriller, Defiance, set in 1941. Directed by Edward Zwick (Glory, Blood Diamond) and adapted for the screen by Zwick and Clay Frohman from the non-fiction book by Nechama Tec, Defiance tells the true story of three brothers Tuvia, Zus and Asael Bielski who beat incredible odds and ultimately kept thousands of Jews safe from being murdered by the Nazis and their supporters. Defiance is an absolutely heartbreaking and heroic tale, and one that hadn't seen the light of day on the big screen prior to this film. The real Bielski brothers never sought fame or recognition for their bravery and so this is one true story that will be new to most moviegoers. And it's definitely one that deserves to be shared with a worldwide audience as the Bielskis accomplished the near-impossible and saved untold lives. Tuvia (Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), and Asael Bielski (Jamie Bell) escaped into the forest surrounding their family's home in Stankevich (now Belarus) after discovering Nazi collaborators had murdered their parents. Farmers by trade, the brothers were capable, resourceful men able to live off the land. But the Bielskis didn't just want to hide out and try to survive the massacre of their fellow Jewish citizens. The brothers wanted to avenge the deaths of their family and friends and did so by saving men, women, children, and the elderly from falling into the hands of the Nazis and their supporters. At the urging (basically under the direct order of) Tuvia, the oldest brother, anyone seeking food and shelter was accepted into the Bielskis' shelter in the forest. Zus initially wasn't a supporter of Tuvia's plan to take in all refugees, believing they would weaken the group's chances at survival. But Tuvia prevailed and the gathering grew into a society of 1,000+ people, all tasked with working to help the group survive. Temporary housing was built, booby traps were set out to protect the camp, and those capable of handling a gun patrolled the settlement's perimeter. The refugees survived by dealing with farmers and other merchants sympathetic to their situation as well as stealing resources meant for the army. Tuvia, the group's leader, did whatever was necessary to keep order in this makeshift community. He had strict rules everyone in the community had to adhere to and punishment for disobeying could be brutal. But whatever Tuvia did, he did for the good of this group which became known as the Bielski otriad. Thousands who would have perished in the Holocaust lived as the direct result of his actions. Surprisingly, the fact Craig, Schreiber, and Bell in no way resemble brothers doesn't distract from the film. Craig and Schreiber play tough as nails men who butt heads but also obviously love and respect each other. Jamie Bell is slight in build and seems slightly out of place, but his presence is strong enough to carry off the part of the younger brother who finds love in this makeshift community. I haven't read Nechama Tec's book, Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, and so I can't say with any certainty how closely Zwick and Frohman stuck to the source material. As with most films based on books, artistic license was probably taken to make the story flow cinematically. In interviews, Craig and Schreiber said in actuality there was much more brutality and killing than is portrayed in the film. And I have to believe Zwick and Frohman added in more romance than Tec's book revealed. But the basic story is supposedly much the same as how it played out back in 1941. It's incredible to me that I knew nothing about this story after all these years and all these tales of heroics by Germans keeping Jewish citizens safe (such as recounted in Schindler's List). Filmed in the forest outside of Vilnius, Lithuania instead of on a soundstage to add as much realism as possible to this retelling of the Bielskis' story, Defiance is a compelling human drama of revenge, honor, hope, and survival. It's also an engaging action film, although the action never overwhelms the story. Craig, Schreiber and Bell give performances that remind us this is above all the story of men making a stand during one of the bleakest moments in history. Expand
  5. Jun 22, 2013
    6
    I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it again. Defiance is a fairly run of the mill film that, considering the subject matter, is not as inspiring or emotionally intense as it could have been. The plot just seems to move along without being able to grab you and pull you in to the plight of the Bielski group, despite the deaths and suffering of it's members. Also, the plot doesn't really feature any twists, none in fact, so any increase in excitement or suspense is really limited.

    The acting scores a plus for the film, if you are prepared to accept some fluctuating Eastern European accents. All three leads turn in good performances but the supporting cast of Alexa Davalos and Allan Corduner are more than worthy of equal mention.

    A well made and acted film that surprisingly lacks in genuine drama and emotion.
    Expand
  6. May 18, 2013
    10
    Defiance has awesome character and story. This tv series is better than game Defiance. Positives aspect it different class people. I give 10/10, if next series will be better. Now some is boring, but i have hope, that will be better.
  7. Feb 24, 2013
    5
    Defiance is the real life story of the Bielski brothers, who during WWII in Belarus, saved and protected 1200 fellow Jews from the Nazis. The Bielski's never sought recognition for what they did, however the descendents of the people they saved now number in the tens of thousands. The story is truly inspiring, as for the movie, it moved very slowly and like all war stories, was much too long. You quickly see that the story repeats itself over and over again. The film starts off very strong and than just flat-lines. It's a shame, because it's a great cast and an inspiring, relatively unknown story, but it just doesn't go anywhere. Expand
  8. Dec 31, 2012
    9
    One of the best movies about the Nazis and Jews Ive EVER seen! Craig did an excellent job. I will, however say that the movie was a bit too long but the battles were so realistic that it didnt matter to me.
  9. Jan 23, 2012
    6
    Les Insurgés était sur le papier un sujet en or, surtout s'il se trouvait entre les mains d'un réalisateur comme Edward Zwick. Malheureusement, le film est bien en dessous de ce que j'attendais... Pourquoi? A cause d'un travail technique (mise en scène entre autre) trop académique? Ce n'est pas dérangeant, au final(il n'y a qu'à voir ce que cela a donné sur l'excellent Le Dernier Samouraï)... Je dirai plutôt que le film se perd surtout dans sa première moitié, qui semble montée à la va-vite et qui fait perdre tout intérêt que l'on puisse porter à cette histoire; et que cela manque d'une bonne BO de qualité (Hans Zimmer sur Le Dernier Samouraï, encore). Heureusement, Les Insurgés n'est pas un film à jeter, grâce à sa seconde partie, bien plus prenante et palpitante. De plus, le film est aidé par un casting honorable. Mais quand même, après avoir vu Blood Diamond, difficile de ne pas être déçu par ce film quasi "brouillon" et quelque peu académique... Expand
  10. Nov 26, 2011
    3
    Far too long and would have been a bit better if it wasnt. Solid acting by the main cast as well. The film overall though wasnt that interesting and often was rather dull through most parts of the film.
  11. Oct 27, 2011
    10
    I give this movie a such a high ranking, because it was an incredibly true story that I feel was acted out very well. To think about what those people went through just because they were Jews. It is so sad to see how the world still hates the Jews, including most of the negative reviewers, and for what? They are one of the most peace loving nations on earth; search out the truth about what is going on in their land now, btw you will not hear the truth from the mainstream media (shocker). Anyhow I found this movie to be very engaging and was rooting for them to survive the whole time. Did not feel the foul language was needed and it added nothing to the movie, but to make sure it was R rated. Expand
  12. 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 horror and advesities the jews had to suffer. Despite the tedious pace, "Defiance" is still a great movie you will want to watch.
  13. Aug 26, 2011
    5
    A remarkable true story is left as a rather pedestrian and uninspired action flick in the hands of director Edward Zwick. We are left with routine drama and routine action, with self-important imagery and dialogue to lift itself above that.
  14. Aug 13, 2011
    6
    Not great, but a good portrayal of an amazing true story. Get's better as the movie progresses. Beautiful snow scenes contrast the horror. Captivating, but not enough.
  15. Apr 13, 2011
    7
    Somewhat manipulative but nonetheless quite engrossing film; it's based on such an incredible true story only astonishingly inept direction could have wrecked the premise, but there's plenty of that around, and this was pretty sensitively handled. I still have an involuntary antipathy towards adopted accents and there was a curious disconnect between the Russian which was subtitled (even when spoken by the leads) and the Polish which was rendered in silly, heavily accented English.

    Daniel Craig was somewhat low key and based on this portrayal it became a matter of surprise that he was regarded as the de facto leader of the partisans.

    All such films seem to be required by law to feature a mournful violin.
    Expand
  16. Jan 26, 2011
    7
    A pretty good movie about Russian Jews (hadn't really thought much about Russian Jews) during WWII. At times the accents were a bit hard to understand but the movie itself was enjoyable albeit a bit mushed together. Defiance isn't a Braveheart or Gladiator but it is a pretty good movie for those who enjoy a good drama.
  17. Aug 19, 2010
    2
    Irritating and self important. The Bielski brothers deserved better! The main problems lie in it's melodrama. When the film does action scenes they're actually alright. But they're the only satisfying part of it and even then look like they're on a set. Wouldn't blame the director or even actors for this, I would blame the producer who greenlit this for a hollywood studio despite it clearly needing a different style then what hollywoods accustomed to Expand
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
  1. 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.
  2. That butting of heads, as performed by actors as strong and soulful as Craig and Schreiber, lends Defiance an emotional charge, even as the film itself struggles dramatically to find its way out of those woods.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    A potentially exceptional story is told in a flatly unexceptional manner.