starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos
screenplay by Edward Zwick & Clay Frohman
directed by Edward Zwick
by Walter Chaw It's finally happened: Red Dawn with Russian Jews. It's not so much unthinkable as inevitable after the fact. You could go your whole life without conjuring something so perverse; it's the kind of thing "South Park" might have done at a quarter the budget, with thrice the ingenuity, and without the star power of über-studs Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber making a pretty convincing play for inclusion in the bad accent hall of fame. When Craig, as heroic bandit Tuvia Bielski, delivers his St. Crispian's Day speech in half-pidgin/half-Queen's English ("Uff vee shut die? Tlyin to liff? At least we die like human beings!") as director Ed Zwick ladles on the Fiddler on the Roof score and we get reaction shots of a Dickensian urchin all dirt and eyes, what choice do we have but to harden our hearts and wonder how it is that every "true story" run through this prestige mill ends up exactly the same grain. The moment when Tuvia and his woodsman brother Zus (Schreiber) take on the responsibility of two fine young lasses at the behest of a set-upon farm family, however, is the moment that it clicks that this piece of macho bullroar is a direct blood descendant of John Milius's stupidest movie of 1984. There but for the grace of Swayze and Sheen goes Defiance--a film so bad that it's not only worse than Red Dawn, but worse because instead of positing an imaginary occupation of heartland America, it sets itself smack dab in the middle of the Nazi occupation of Belorussia circa 1941--suggesting in the process that while it's not true there was no Jewish resistance in WWII, it might be true that the reason so many were killed is because they weren't as macho as Tuvia and Zus. Kind of a sticky wicket, that.