Metascore
49

Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32

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Critic Reviews

  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    75
    Reminds us that the human dynamic can do a lot that explosions can't, even when the film flirts with formula.
  3. 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.
  4. The lack of attacks lets us concentrate on emotions rather than explosions.
  5. 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.
  6. 75
    The movie worked for me right up to the final scene, and then it caved in.
  7. Newsweek
    Reviewed by: David Ansen
    70
    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. 63
    Could have been a contender, but it lacks the courage of its own ambivalence.
  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. 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.
  12. 60
    A mildly psychological suspense thriller with military trappings.
  13. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    60
    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.
  14. 60
    A decent thriller trying to overcome a rather preposterous premise.
  15. 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.
  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. 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.
  18. Hart's War has its priorities clear, but delivers them with insulting simplicity.
  19. It more or less self-destructs in a ridiculous last few minutes when it becomes a noble sacrifice-o-rama.
  20. 50
    Confused and dramatically overwrought.
  21. Despite its admirable sobriety for most of its running time, the film's climax is a parade of ludicrous clichés.
  22. Follows all these rules, which is why you'll get the enjoyable basic minimum. But not a whit more.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 40
    Inoffensive and sporadically engrossing.
  27. 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.
  28. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    30
    If glum were good and bleak were best, Hart's War would be a standout.
  29. 30
    Put Bruce Willis and this bewildering World War II movie in front of the firing line.
  30. 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.
User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 30 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Jan 3, 2015
    6
    A war movie that transformed into a law-movie - and later, into some kind of drama. The beginning was good, but by the end of the movie I grewA war movie that transformed into a law-movie - and later, into some kind of drama. The beginning was good, but by the end of the movie I grew to be a little disappointed. The characters were seemingly given depth - and no depth at all. All in all it is a pretty good movie, but everything was as if "half-way done". And Colin Farrell definitely starred this one - Bruce Willis' character was pretty "macho" all the time, but never really proved himself. As if he had no reason to (so, he didn't convince me). Full Review »
  2. Sep 5, 2016
    5
    What is a man's life worth?

    Hart's War is wrongly titled as this gives the impression that this is a war movie. In fact, it is a courtroom
    What is a man's life worth?

    Hart's War is wrongly titled as this gives the impression that this is a war movie. In fact, it is a courtroom movie with the war providing a unique setting: it is held in Germany in a prisoner of war camp filled with allied soldiers.The central theme is akin to Saving Private Ryan: what is a man's life worth? Do we sacrifice the many to save the one and in reverse: do we sacrifice the one to save the many? how unfair that might be. The case gets complicated by the fact that the final (and deadly) authority is held by the Germans and that the accused is a black man, with all the racial entanglements that this creates. Next to that is that the main protagonist comes from the wealthier class from the us. This provides yet another source of tension.
    It is up to Colin Farrell to defend the reluctant black Lieutenant, while the others make his life difficult, notably the camp commandant.

    It would have made for a great story if the script hadn't been so bad. An example: the Germans are yet again of the stereotypical kind: they have no problem to summarily shoot prisoners of war or hang them without a proper trial. A severe breach of the Geneva convention and totally ridiculous at that point of time in the war as the Germans could have guessed that the shoe would soon be on the other foot. But even more: why would the camp commandant even bother with a courtroom case anyway if he is such a bad dude? Well, the movie provides the flimsiest of excuses: 'that might be interesting', the commandant says.

    The American prisoners are your usual set of suspects with a few bad dudes with a racial bias, the nondescript filler cast and the exemplary good guy Colin Farell. Those who expect the fireworks of Twelve Angry Men or the cat and mouse play of A Few Good Men shall not find it here. Key moments are not intense and played out with passion. It is all bland, flat almost emotionless. Like eating sawdust. No Jack Nicolson who blows his top as In A few good men, no Humphrey Bogart who falls apart in the courtroom in The Caine Mutiny and no Lee J. Cobb who collapses in a heap of misery after his tirade and gives in in Twelve Angry Men. These key moments is what makes these people go, no such moments are in this movie.
    The movie is just not right. The camera doesn't intensify the scene(close ups for key moments), the scenery is not use right(cramped environments to make you feel locked in and with no place to go), strange angles to create a fearful mood, ties undone when the scenes get heated. Nothing.It tarts out with a totally pointless first part in which Farrell is captured. It ends with a long after explanation that doesn't matter.
    It is not rightly cast with the camp commandant, a key figure, played by a nobody and Bruce Willes, taking the role of Jack Nicolson had in A Few Good Men, is just not being the right guy for that job. Willes is the kind of guy who stays cool and collected even under pressure and makes wisecracks, while Nicolson can explode, rant and spittle.. That is the passion you need when you become undone.
    And finally on top of all that is the breast beating. Yeah, you such an honest band of freedom-loving good guys.

    All in all, a mediocre movie that will sink into oblivion. I read the book was okay, let's hope someone in due time will make a better movie with it so we can forget about this one.
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 29, 2015
    8
    I have not read the book and I didn't know what to expect, but I liked this movie. I think it took a somewhat different approach than what weI have not read the book and I didn't know what to expect, but I liked this movie. I think it took a somewhat different approach than what we usually see in war films. Full Review »