Edward Zwick does not disappoint in his newest epic direction, Defiance starring Daniel Craig (James Bond, Casino Royale & Quantum of Solace), Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell (King Kong, Flags of our Fathers, Jumper).
The movie gives us a glimpse of the struggles of survival, humanity, and loyalty as Three Bielski brothers, Tuvia, Alexander, and Asael manage to escape into the Belarussian forests after their family was killed in the ghettos of a Nazi-occupied Poland in the winter of 1941. The Eldest brother Tuvia (Daniel Craig) and youngest brother Asael (Jamie Bell) lead a group of Jewish survivors in an effort to stay alive and outlast the war while facing such hardships as starvation, extreme cold, mutiny, and the impending German army on their heels as word spreads of the growing number of Jews within the area.Â
The middle brother, Zus, is seemingly driven by retribution and revenge rather than aiding the helpless and creates a Jewish freedom fighting force that joins with the red Russian army in an effort to sabotage, pillage and otherwise distract the Germans by creating another war front devised to occupy and divide the powerful German army from a single, seemingly invincible force.
Quite a lot of subplots and themes surround the central story told in this adaptation of Nechama Tecâ€™s book â€śDefiance: the Bielski Partisansâ€ť, a true story based on actual events surrounding the war. Â Some may say that this is overwhelming or difficult to conceive in a single film, but I believe Edward Zwick made a noble effort to not exhaust or otherwise distract from the central arch of this film.
One complaint could be a skimming or diluted feel of character development among supporting actors, but the strong performances and development portrayed by the central characters more than compensates for this when there are time constraints to deal with and donâ€™t want to lose a captivated audience.
If youâ€™re simply expecting an action flick, this movie is subpar at best. In retrospect, it is not simply another rehashed holocaust story, though many of the themes are similar. The prison in this case is not concentration camps but a lack of morale, food, warmth, hope and other resources prying the very fibers of humanity from these people who try to cope as best they can while adhering to their faith and culture to survive.