I was reading an article about how this movie was filmed in Prague and it was really cold and the actors really got a sense for what it must have been like to be a prisoner in a World War II German POW camp. This sort of commentary is so emblematic of what's wrong with this silly, contrived, simplistic, characterless story, that I can barely even begin to say. Well, I guess I can say a little.
There are two simple moments in this movie that automatically, without anything else happening in the film, earn it two extra bombs. The first is one character explaining to another early in the film what a "Bouncing Betty" is. I mean, they're soldiers in the second World War; they know what the damn things are. But here's the director, Gregory ("Fallen") Hoblit, doing a little audience education. Oh, we're going to be authentic, yet we're also going to take the time to exhaustively explain technical details. Why not just have the character say "mine" you brain-addled imbecile? The second intolerable scene happens at the very end when Lt. Tommy Hart does a voice-over so he can recount all the lessons he's learned from his experience in the camp: "Uh, racism is bad. War is bad. Patriotism is good."
Lt. Hart is chosen to defend a black airman, Lt. Lincoln Scott (Terrence Howard), in a court convened inside the camp at the behest of the camp's ranking prisoner, Col. William McNamara (Bruce Willis), and with the permission of the Nazi commander, SS Major Wilhelm Visser (Marcel Iures). Everyone suspects Lt. Scott killed one of the racist white boys in his barracks.
This trial happens because McNamara and the other prisoners are planning a huge escape. It's really no wonder the Germans lost the war because they're not smart enough to check underneath big appliances such as stoves and urinals in their prisoner barracks. As a result, every single one of them seems to have a huge hole under it where the prisoners go in and out at will like kids in a schoolyard. Did the individual German prison camps not send each other messages? "Big Escape Attempted Yesterday. Check underneath all stoves and urinals for big holes."
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