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It is no band of brothers; WWII story in need of some magic Films DEFIANCE (15) VERDICT *****.

Byline: GRAHAM YOUNG

LIKE Roman Polanski's Oscar-winner, The Pianist, this trueWWII story was clearly crying out for Hollywood.

Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell do not feel like real brothers who would apparently save more lives than Oskar Schindler by using knowledge of the local Belorussian woodlands to escape the Nazi massacres.

The need to try to save lives while seeking revenge is at the heart of the feature, yet director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai/Blood Diamond) delivers a thriller which doesn't thrill.

Humbled by The Bielski Partisans' extraordinary determination, many viewers will want to take Defiance seriously compared with the Rambos of this world.

But not necessarily at the expense of losing 136 minutes of their own life.

While the website surprisingly offers a computer game version to play, Zwick fails to really get underneath his characters' skins. Anyone also seeing Steven Soderbergh's current release, Che - Part One, will consider his woodland scenes to be much more realistic.

The script's mantra is commendable: 'To save a life you must take responsibility for it'... and 'We may be hunted like animals, but we will not become animals'.

Too often, though, it feels like these are Western stars stepping across the footprints of history rather than wearing the real shoes.

Jamie Bell (Asael Bielski) has already been into this territory with Deathwatch, his 2002 follow-up to Billy Elliot. A familiar face who has yet to really establish himself on the silver screen, Love in the Time of Cholera and The Painted Veil star Liev Schreiber (Zus Bielski) seems to be twice the size of Bell.

And Daniel Craig (Tuvia Bielski) now comes with too much 007 baggage to be thoroughly believable when he's speaking with the East European accent of a typical Bond baddie.

Defiance is a story of heroics over three long years and might have been bookended with an older Clayton.

Tuvia working as a cab driver in New York until his death in 1987.

The film's best aspect is the Golden Globenominated score by James Newton Howard, a man clearly in demand after The Dark Knight, Charlie Wilson's War and Michael Cinematog rapher Eduardo Serra has Oscar nominations for Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003) and The Wings of the Dove (1997).

www.defiancemovie.co.uk

GRAHAM YOUNG

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Liev Schreiber as Zus Bielski and Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski (below) in Defiance.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 9, 2009
Words:398
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