When Colonel William McNamara (Bruce Willis) is stripped of his freedom in a German POW camp, he’s determined to keep on fighting — even from behind enemy lines. Enlisting the help of a young lieutenant (Colin Farrell), McNamara risks everything on a mission to free his men... and change the outcome of the war.
is a serious, well-intentioned Second World War drama. It's finally unconvincing, but it will go down in the history books as marking future superstar Colin Farrell's first leading role in a major studio picture. It's late 1944 and Lieutenant Hart (Farrell) ends up in a POW camp where the senior American officer, Colonel McNamara (Bruce Willis), takes an instant dislike to him. When a black American officer, Lt Scott (Terrence Howard), is accused of murder, the commandant allows McNamara to conduct a politically motivated trial. Hart is made the defence attorney, but may be no more than a pawn to further McNamara's own agenda.
In a film that chooses the ironic setting of a Nazi prison camp to examine racism in the American military, none of the characters are black or white, and in the tradition of The Shawshank Redemption there is more going on beneath the surface than meets the eye. Unfortunately, while Hart's War is extremely well made, various small plot holes and contrivances mean that ultimately it fails to ring true--a problem exacerbated by an over-earnest tendency to preach in key scenes. Nevertheless, Willis gives one of his best, most understated performances and Farrell, who went straight from this to Minority Report, delivers a truly star-making turn.
On the DVD: Hart's War comes to DVD with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that's fine for a dialogue-driven film, while the anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 transfer is virtually flawless. Ten deleted scenes are presented with the same excellent picture quality and optional commentary by director Gregory Hoblit. There is a four-part photo gallery, the deceptive theatrical trailer and two commentaries. Producer David Foster offers some interesting information, but also a lot of generalities and silence. Bruce Willis contributes virtually nothing, but Hoblit and writer Billy Ray engage in a frank discussion of many of the flaws in the film and the problems they never solved. The wartime history they recount and the cuts they made suggest that a better film was sacrificed to tell a commercial story in two hours. --Gary S. Dalkin
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