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Action . Drama . History . War

During World War II, four Jewish brothers escape their Nazi-occupied homeland of West Belarus in Poland and join the Soviet partisans to combat the Nazis. The brothers begin the rescue of roughly 1,200 Jews still trapped in the ghettos of Poland. Based on a true story.

Actors: Iddo Goldberg , Kate Fahy , Jodhi May , Tomas Arana , Allan Corduner , Alexa Davalos , Jamie Bell , Liev Schreiber , Daniel Craig , Mark Feuerstein
Directors: Edward Zwick
Country: USA
Release: 2009-01-16
More Info:
  • William Arnold

    It's an exciting action spectacle and a thoughtful, cumulatively moving family drama.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Gene Newman

    The perfect antidote to the post-holiday blues. It's exciting, well-acted, touching, and genuine.

    Premiere Full Review
  • Connie Ogle

    The film isn't much of a character study; too many of its secondary characters are stereotypes, and it never fully engages our emotions the way "Schindler's List" or "The Pianist" did.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Carrie Rickey

    Here, Jews are not victims of genocide, but victors in the organized resistance against it.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    The battle scenes are well choreographed and contain enough uncertainty to make them genuinely exciting, but one would expect no less from a man who has overseen Civil War engagements (Glory) and Japanese strife (The Last Samurai).

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Marc Mohan

    Remarkable, unheralded story.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    It's a heroic story, and Zwick frames it rather too strenuously as an antidote to the generic Holocaust stories of Jewish passivity and martyrdom. And yet, as a piece of historical redress, a great service has been done in bringing this narrative to the screen.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Richard Corliss

    Defiance says that it took grit, desperation and courage under fire to say, "Not this time," and fire back. Beyond that, it's a pretty good movie -- a bold, uneasy mix of romance, political debate and vigorous action.

    Time Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    It's impossible to watch Defiance without experiencing a vicarious thrill of resistance and revenge.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • David Denby

    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.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Josh Rosenblatt

    Zwick may be the definition of a modern blockbuster filmmaker, but he's also spent his entire career struggling to find the balance between opposing impulses – the sentimentalist's desire for emotional-historical heft and the artist's fascination with conflicted humanity – a struggle that's all over Defiance.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    Zwick offers excitingly staged moments, but once you get past the novelty of WWII Jews acting this heroically macho, Defiance bogs down in a not very well-developed script.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    For all the film's flaws, this is a war story told with passion about a band of brothers that still has the power to inspire.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    The best performance, because it's more nuanced, is by Liev Schreiber. His Zus Bielski is more concerned with the big picture, more ideological, more driven by tactics.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    The film should've aimed higher, given all that these people endured to have their story told.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    This promising premise is turned into basically an overgrown TV movie.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Jason Buchanan

    A Holocaust film that's light on sentimentality but high on human drama, Defiance tells one of those remarkable survival stories that's so incredible it must be true.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    The tale of the resistance movement in Belorussia is undeniably inspiring and ideally suited for a cinematic rendering. But Defiance resists bold, passionate storytelling and delivers something rather conventional.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Michael Rechtshaffen

    That butting of heads, as performed by actors as strong and soulful as Craig and Schreiber, lends Defiance an emotional charge, even as the film itself struggles dramatically to find its way out of those woods.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Bob Mondello

    It's an inspiring story, if one that doesn't need quite as much poetic inspiration as Ed Zwick's movie insists on giving it, with dialogue that's too often ornate and parable-inflected.

    NPR Full Review
  • Joe Neumaier

    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.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Nev Pierce

    An amazing true tale is somewhat diminished by second-hand storytelling: entirely admirable, largely entertaining, and yet curiously hollow.

    Empire Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    Defiance comes off as plodding and workmanlike -- and even in the midst of Zwick's too-careful machinations, it's a movie that's unsure of what it wants to be. Full Review
  • Ella Taylor

    There are subtitles and vaguely East European accents; there is romance and rebirth, tears and regular pauses for gallows humor (at which we Jews are known to be very good, on account of our long history of persecution).

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    As a drama - an epic drama, no less, clocking in at 137 minutes - its fascination is diffused, and the movie becomes something of a long slog.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    Depressingly predictable in its dialogue and dramatic beats, Defiance is most interesting as a study of unlikely leaders.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    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.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    The movie leaves you in an awful tangle of amazement and disbelief: Amazement that Tuvia Bielski did turn a group of civilians into a nimble fighting force and a commune that could defend itself, but disbelief at his accomplishment's stagey and banal rendering.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Matthew Sorrento

    A little sentimentality can fuel a lot of action, yet Zwick buries his film in cloying guilt, in the end sinking Defiance with the holocaust film's bait.

    Film Threat Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    Defiance has some genuine strengths but also some weaker elements, and these opposing traits battle it out kind of the way the contentious Bielskis fought not only the Germans but each other.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    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.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    A potentially exceptional story is told in a flatly unexceptional manner.

    Variety Full Review
  • Andrea Gronvall

    Zwick, intent on correcting the perception of Jews as passive victims, lets the action set pieces overwhelm the more intimate scenes, several of which are already diminished by stilted dialogue.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Nathan Rabin

    There are lots of movies about Jews suffering, dying, and surviving in Europe during World War II, but precious few about Jews fighting back. So why does everything in Defiance feel so doggedly familiar?

    The A.V. Club Full Review
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