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Wick's Review

Created Jan 30, 2009 08:25PM PST • Edited Sep 17, 2014 11:09PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Defiance is a white horse of a movie, telling an improbable and previously little known story that seems too good to be true. Anglo-Saxon star Daniel Craig playing Jewish partisan Tuvia Bielski adds to the fable. A must see for Jews and other WWII buffs, the movie delivers plenty of action, intrigue and emotional wallop for audiences of all persuasions: Its happy ending … a final gift from this real-life fantasy.

  3. Very Good 3.5

    Daniel Craig – intelligent action hero that he is – delivers a fine performance here, even if his casting seems a bit over the top. A blond Bond was novel enough, but at least 007 is a WASP icon. Not that the producers needed to cast a schmoe with a Jew-fro as Tuvia, but they lay it on a bit thick when a new refugee asks “Is that a Jew?” about the fair-haired man sitting high on his horse.

    So I’m conflicted. Speaking as a Jewish partisan myself1, it’s great to see Daniel Craig as a Semitic brother, again. Plus, his mug on the poster and name above the credits puts butts in seats, a worthy goal. OTOH, check out the real Tuvia (pictured in the WikChip at right). The guy’s a dark haired, dark eyed handsome man. Maybe Craig should have dyed his blond locks and worn brown contacts…

    No one would accuse Liev Schreiber of trading on his good looks, making him the perfect second banana. As the younger brother with issues, he excels.

    Amongst the supporting cast, Mark Margolis always spices up a production. He’s busy these days, showing up here and in The Wrestler.

    1 Of the modern kind … where they don’t shoot at you.

  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Good 3.0
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Very Good 3.5
  8. Great 4.0

    Well mounted, this two plus hour movie doesn’t feel long. While its a bit tough to keep the characters straight, the action and plot remain clear and compelling.

  9. Direction Great 4.0

    Edward Zwick now has a quartet of quality war movies to his credit: Defiance joins Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai, and Glory. The guy has come a long way from “thirtysomething.”

    Here he’s interviewed about Defiance

  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.8
  15. Sex Innocent 1.4
  16. Violence Fierce 2.0
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.0
  18. Glib 1.2

    What took so long for this naturally cinematic story to come to light? Apparently Tuvia and Zus, the surviving Bielski brothers, didn’t feel a need to call attention to themselves, a modesty that burnishes their natural heroism.

    NPR would have it otherwise, suggesting that Jews were less interesting than Nazis when examining the Holocaust. Maybe in Hollywood, but not with Yad Vashem and other Jewish focused inquiries into the Shoah. And yet the Bielski story wasn’t discovered by a historian until the 1980s. Thus the self-effacement of the Bielskis must be the reason the story took so long to get out.

    The NPR story also goes wrong saying the Bielskis “belonged to a rare segment of the Jewish population: peasants.” Peasants rare amongst pre-war Ashkenazim? That’s news to this grandson of four Litvaks who came to America from villages not unlike the one in Fiddler on the Roof. My peasant grandparents hailed from shtetls like fictional Anatevka, complete with doctors, Rabbis, merchants and … milkmen like Tevya. Peasants? Plenty of them.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.5

    The refugees go to great lengths to acquire ampicillin, a drug that wasn’t yet available anywhere in the world, let alone in Russia. Whoops.

  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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Jan 30, 2009 11:52PM

Regarding Wick’s Review
Cool. We got Daniel Craig as FreshPiks 1 & 2 right now. This guy’s like the new Cary Grant, minus the light comedy.