Defiance

Defiance Image
Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 34 Critics What's this?

User Score
5.8

Mixed or average reviews- based on 157 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Based on an extraordinary true story, Defiance is an epic tale of family, honor, vengeance and salvation in World War II. (Paramount Vantage)

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. It's an exciting action spectacle and a thoughtful, cumulatively moving family drama.
  2. Here, Jews are not victims of genocide, but victors in the organized resistance against it.
  3. 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.
  4. The film should've aimed higher, given all that these people endured to have their story told.
  5. Craig, far from James Bond but still swaggering, makes a leathery, craggy commander, and Schreiber - who'll show his full-on action chops this summer in the Hugh Jackman "Wolverine" movie - is tough but sullen. Yet all this old-style moviemaking doesn't always pay off.
  6. What is puzzling is how Edward Zwick has taken an extraordinary real-life story about a handful of people who defied huge odds, and turned it into an utterly conventional war movie.
  7. 50
    Defiance presents itself as an explicit correction of the cultural record, a counterpoint to all those lachrymose World War II tales of helplessness and victimhood. This is a perfectly honorable intention, but the problem is that, in setting out to overturn historical stereotypes of Jewish passivity, Mr. Zwick (who co-wrote the screenplay with Clayton Frohman) ends up affirming them.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 51
  2. Negative: 8 out of 51
  1. 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?! Expand
  2. ROBERTM.
    Jan 16, 2009
    10
    My wife and I found this movie to be totally riveting; the audience of mostly 55+ Arizonans applauded at the movies conclusion. Your My wife and I found this movie to be totally riveting; the audience of mostly 55+ Arizonans applauded at the movies conclusion. Your reviewers seem to rate on the "artistic value" of the movie. Sometimes a true story, well-told is preferred by the "lesser forms of life" out here in flyover country. Expand
  3. 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 tooOne 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. Expand
  4. 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 toA 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. Expand
  5. Apr 4, 2016
    6
    A Society in the Forest, Banding Together to Escape Persecution.

    Around the midpoint of “Defiance,” Tuvia Bielski (Daniel Craig) sits
    A Society in the Forest, Banding Together to Escape Persecution.

    Around the midpoint of “Defiance,” Tuvia Bielski (Daniel Craig) sits astride his horse, welcoming new arrivals to his encampment in the Belarussian forest. It is late in 1941, and the newcomers, like the other people in this makeshift settlement, are Jews from surrounding towns and villages who have fled the savagery of the German Army and its local collaborators. Tuvia addresses these terrified survivors in a calm, authoritative voice, assuring them that here, under his protection, they will be free and safe. A little boy looks up in amazement at this heroic figure and asks his mother, “Is he a Jew?”

    “Jews don’t fight,” a Russian officer remarks when he meets Tuvia and his younger, angrier brother Zus (Liev Schreiber). “These Jews do” is the response, and also the gist of Edward Zwick’s stiff, musclebound new movie. Based on a book by Nechama Tec, “Defiance” tells the true and astonishing story of the Bielski partisans, who fought the Nazis and rescued hundreds of Jews through the darkest years of war and genocide.

    Tuvia and Zus — along with two other brothers, Asael (Jamie Bell) and Aron (George MacKay), who is still a child — meet up in the forest after their parents have been murdered by local authorities working in league with the German invaders. The Bielski boys are rough characters — a history of smuggling and petty criminality is hinted at — who can hold their vodka and know how to shoot, how to steal and how to navigate the dense and trackless forests.

    In contrast, many of the people they rescue are what Zus calls malbushim, the Hebrew word for clothes, which he uses to describe people he thinks are worthless. And this film’s characters more or less are what they wear. Tuvia cuts a dashing figure in his brown leather jacket. An older schoolteacher (Allan Corduner) with a fedora, a fine scarf and a nicely trimmed beard arrives coughing and quoting Talmud.

    Another malbesh, Isaac (Mark Feuerstein), with round glasses and a nebbishy vest, can barely use a hammer. “What is it you do?” Zus asks. “I suppose you could say I was — I am — an intellectual,” Isaac stammers. Zus cannot hide his amusement, or his contempt: “This is a job?”

    Well, not really, but it’s always useful, at least in a movie like this one, to have someone around to say things like “At least Descartes recognized the subjective nature of existence” or “If my friends at The Socialist Review could see me now!” And in the society that Tuvia builds in the forest (after Zus, more a fighter than an organizer, joins up with a Red Army brigade), intellectuals do have a role.

    In addition to comic relief, Isaac and the schoolteacher provide a measure of ethical guidance and political counsel. Or at least they seem to. “You have ideas about community?” Tuvia asks Isaac, and later, when Tuvia, on horseback, utters the word “community,” Isaac smiles.

    Mr. Zwick, whose other movies include “Glory,” “The Siege” and “Blood Diamond,” is many things, but subtle is not one of them. (Remember that horse in the first paragraph? Did I mention that it was white?) He wields his camera with a heavy hand, punctuating nearly every scene with emphatic nods, smiles or grimaces as the occasion requires. His pen is, if anything, blunter still, with dialogue that crashes down on the big themes like a blacksmith’s hammer.

    And the performances he wrings from his cast would not be out of place in an old Second Avenue Yiddish melodrama or a modern Egyptian soap opera. Just as the intellectuals are on hand to argue and fret, so are the women called upon to gaze at the Bielskis with wide, melting eyes. Three of them (Alexa Davalos, Iben Hjejle and Mia Wasikowska) will be chosen as “forest wives” by Tuvia, Zus and Asael. “You saved my life,” says Lilka (Ms. Davalos) to Tuvia as they lie together, wrapped in furs and illuminated by golden sunlight. “No. You saved mine,” he says.

    But while Mr. Zwick is frequently clumsy, he is not dumb. You might even say that he is an intellectual, since “Defiance” is animated as much by an idea as by rousing, emphatic emotions. It is most interesting, and most persuasive, not as a chronicle of heroic action but rather as a series of arguments — mainly between the patient Tuvia and the hot-headed Zus — about justice, righteousness and how a decent society should function. Zus is a man of action, Tuvia a man of principle, but in good dialectical fashion each one cedes some ground to the other — Tuvia by condoning and committing necessary acts of violence, Zus by saying something nice every once in a while.

    Their story is surely worth dramatizing — and may indeed be well served by this director’s square-jawed narrative style — but Mr. Zwick is not simply adding a chapter to the cinematic annals of the Holocaust. It’s not exactly false, but it’s more than a little inauthentic.
    Expand
  6. 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. TheDefiance 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
  7. [Anonymous]
    Jan 3, 2009
    0
    Belongs on TV at 3am. Low budget, badly cast predictable and over-produced soap opera of the forest.

See all 51 User Reviews

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