Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32
  1. 75
    The movie worked for me right up to the final scene, and then it caved in.
  2. The plot is canny, but it would be little more than an ingenious springloaded device were it not for the performances by Howard and Iures.
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Reminds us that the human dynamic can do a lot that explosions can't, even when the film flirts with formula.
  4. 75
    Works uncommonly well because of the effective manner in which it blends together its various elements: the WW2 prison camp setting, the courtroom aspects, and the issues of honor, racism, and redemption.
  5. The lack of attacks lets us concentrate on emotions rather than explosions.
  6. A solid piece of storytelling that doesn't pander, skips the usual POW stereotypes and allows the film to work reasonably well as an epic of war, a survival story, a prison thriller, a murder mystery and a courtroom drama.
  7. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Gets too earnest for its own good. But Billy Ray and Terry George’s screenplay, taken from a John Katzenbach novel, is expertly plotted.
  8. It may seem harmless, to some, that our movies have never entirely abandoned the land of Poitier-ville, but as Hart's War demonstrates, it's an insult that they haven't.
  9. Just because a movie was inspired by real life and has good intentions doesn't mean it can't wind up as phony as a three-dollar bill.
  10. Quickly morphs into a messy double message movie with motifs and clichés lifted from military courtroom films like "A Soldier's Story" and "A Few Good Men."
  11. 63
    Could have been a contender, but it lacks the courage of its own ambivalence.
  12. 60
    A decent thriller trying to overcome a rather preposterous premise.
  13. 60
    In its amalgam of classic Hollywood war movies and courtroom dramas, Hart's War takes the audience to a place that never existed in order to teach it a lesson it already knows.
  14. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Absorbing in a low-key way but more dramatic where its secondary characters are concerned than its leads, and capped by climactic incidents that are less than entirely convincing.
  15. 60
    A mildly psychological suspense thriller with military trappings.
  16. 50
    The movie's exploration of prejudice within the military is certainly on target, but it's presented with all the finesse of a classroom civics lesson.
  17. Hart's War has its priorities clear, but delivers them with insulting simplicity.
  18. Reviewed by: Carla Meyer
    Takes some admirable risks.
  19. Having seen the TV series "Hogan's Heroes," we already know that a German prisoner of war camp can be cartooned; Hart's War goes further as a cartoon that takes itself seriously.
  20. 50
    Despite its admirable sobriety for most of its running time, the film's climax is a parade of ludicrous clichés.
  21. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    Confused and dramatically overwrought.
  22. It more or less self-destructs in a ridiculous last few minutes when it becomes a noble sacrifice-o-rama.
  23. Follows all these rules, which is why you'll get the enjoyable basic minimum. But not a whit more.
  24. Ultimately, Hart's War can't decide what it is: treatise on racism, escape (and escapist) thriller or murder mystery. So it sits there -- and we sit there with it, waiting and waiting. And waiting.
  25. 40
    Inoffensive and sporadically engrossing.
  26. A movie like Hart's War, for all its realistic trappings, is essentially escapism. And yet it inadvertently pushes the 9/11 button. The real world is going to intrude a lot this year at the movies. Better get used to it.
  27. 40
    Director Gregory Hoblit ("Primal Fear") is merely arranging cliches in new patterns until the surprise ending blows enough pro-military fervor up the audience's ass to make Colin Powell call a halt.
  28. Reviewed by: Justine Elias
    Seriously off balance.
  29. Less fascinating and finally unsatisfying is the awfully familiar racism angle, a subplot that, though unusual in a POW movie, turns regrettably earnest and preachy almost immediately.
  30. 30
    Put Bruce Willis and this bewildering World War II movie in front of the firing line.
  31. 30
    Wants to be everything and adds up to nothing. "War" is a film that tries to excel on several levels and falls flat on all of them.
  32. If glum were good and bleak were best, Hart's War would be a standout.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. SylvieT.
    Jan 18, 2010
    Couldn't even finish watching it. If there had never been a WWII movie made, ever, this would have been a good representation. Failed to deliver anything 'new'. I just got bored and left. Full Review »
  2. FrankO.
    Jan 25, 2006
    Disappointed in this film, the book by John Katzenbach was so much better in terms of tension and suspense. Willis was good, first time I noticed Terrance Howard who I enjoy as an actor. Way too long. Full Review »
  3. TonyB.
    Sep 19, 2005
    What a shame that this fine film was not recognized by the critics or promoted effectively by MGM.