“Daniel Craig (‘Quantum of Solace’) stars as Tuvia Bielski, an ordinary citizen turned hero, in this action-packed epic of family, honor, vengeance and salvation. Defiance is a riveting adventure that showcases the extraordinary true story of the Bielski brothers, simple farmers – outnumbered and outgunned – who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters. Tuvia, along with his unyielding brother, Zus (Liev Schreiber, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’), motivate hundreds of civilians to join their ranks against the Nazi regime. Their Inspirational story is a true testament to the human spirit.”
“Defiance” is rated R for violence and language.
Daniel Craig delivers a fine performance as Tuvia Bielski. He becomes the default leader of this group. And while he’s brave and noble, he is also eventually broken down and vulnerable. He’s a much more realistic hero than you typically get in war movies. And he’s additionally heroic because of how he saves his community, not because of any superhuman feats in battle. Liev Schreiber is also quite good as Zus Bielski. It’s very easy to see why they picked him for Sabretooth in the “Wolverine” movie. Both films feature him clashing with a brother over how their war should be conducted. He’s just not a mutant homicidal maniac here. Jamie Bell is also notable as Asael Bielski, the youngest brother who truly becomes a man and rises to his potential during their time in the wilderness. Each brother has an essential personality trait that ultimately helps the community survive.
Overall, “Defiance” has a good mix of history, drama, action, and romance. It’s a pretty satisfying film that should please fans of war movies, Daniel Craig, or Liev Schreiber.
You’ll find a good offering of bonus features. Most notable is an interview with the children and grandchildren of Tuvia and Zus Bielski. They give insight into the real men and talk about what happened in the years after WWII. It’s required viewing once you have seen the movie. There’s also a making-of featurette. They discuss the development of the script, shooting in Yugoslavia, and other interesting aspects of making “Defiance.” Edward Zwick makes an interesting comparison between these Jews hiding out in the wilderness and the Jews wandering the desert for 40 years. It was a unique parallel that I missed when watching the movie.