Enemy at the Gates

Bomb Rating: 

I don't know what kind of historical license director Jean-Jacques Annaud was granted for this film, but didn't the Russians endure enough in World War II that smarmy, British actors portraying them years later should feel compelled to at least attempt a Russian accent?

There's a phenomenon many artists -- writers, painters, musicians -- suffer from that's called "epiphany regurgitation." It occurs when you are exposed to an interesting idea, file it in the back of your brain and then, about ten years later, recall the very same idea -- only you think it's yours and consider yourself brilliant for "conceiving" it. If you've been around long enough, you sometimes repeat your own idea and think yourself doubly brilliant.

This is obviously what happened to composer James Horner who, in 1982, did the music for "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," and now repeats virtually the same riff in this film -- over and over and over again. Every time there's the least bit of tension, we hear those same few notes. Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) and Nazi sniper Major Konig (Ed Harris) are supposed to be engaging in a tense duel, and I'm thinking, "When's Kirk going to run out from behind a rock and zap someone with his phaser?"

I don't know what kind of historical license director Jean-Jacques Annaud was granted for this film, but didn't the Russians endure enough in World War II that smarmy British actors portraying them years later should feel compelled to at least attempt a Russian accent? Why not show some respect and give audiences the impression that it was indeed the Russians and not the British who turned the Third Reich from Stalingrad? Are Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz not talented enough to accomplish that, or are the British just so egotistical that they think they deserve the credit? Bob Hoskins's turn as Kruschev would have been interesting were it not for that thick cockney accent of his, which makes him sound ridiculous. Hell, if we're going to give the British credit for defending Stalingrad, why not go ahead and feature the Japanese attacking it?

More ridiculous is the sniper duel between Zaitsev and Konig. Each of them sits there, a couple hundred yards away from his target, and no matter what the target may be doing, each manages to put a bullet right between the person's eyes. There's an incredibly stupid scene in which Zaitsev and another sniper (Ron Perlman) run and jump across part of a collapsed floor. Konig may as well be on the other side of Siberia, but still manages to hit the Perlman's character right between the eyes even though he's running and his head isn't even facing Konig.

To make matters worse, a love triangle develops between Law, Fiennes and Weisz, the obvious conclusion of which can be drawn during the first scene where they all stare at each other and Fiennes gives Law that "I saw her first" stare. Ah, if only somebody in this dumb film would have given Weisz green skin -- then Kirk could have come out from behind the rock and shot all these losers.

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