[MOVIE REVIEW]When in doubt, keep tossingWhen you toss a salad, you throw in this and that to give it variety. But if you put in too many things, the flavors cancel each other out. It's the same with a movie. If you try to throw in too many styles, you won't have any.
"Hart's War," which opens Friday, tries to be a war movie, a courtroom drama, an action flick, a thriller, a mystery and every other style in between. Try all that and the result is unfathomable.
Directed by Gregory Hoblit and based on a novel by John Katzenbach, the film stars Bruce Willis as a stubborn, authoritarian commander of a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. The story begins when lieutenant Tommy Hart (Colin Farrell), a law student at Yale who got his rank after his politician father pulled some strings, is captured by German troops during an operation. After being tortured, Hart is moved to the POW camp.
There he meets Colonel William McNamara (Willis). At first he fears the German leader at the camp, Colonel Werner Visser (Marcel Iures), but later he learns that Visser also attended Yale. The movie is full of tension from beginning to end, explicit with gunshots, dead bodies and torture scenes.
The plot starts rolling when two black prisoners arrive at the camp, and the white prisoners give them the cold shoulder. Then a white soldier, Vic (Cole Hauser), is found murdered; one of the black soldiers, Lieutenant Lincoln Scott (Terrence Howard), is accused, even though he's clearly innocent.
Colonel McNamara asks for a court martial, where he will be the judge, and appoints Hart to defend the accused. Slowly, Hart is caught in a bind; McNamara despises him, while the German Colonel Visser begins to befriend him.
From then on, an intense relationship triangle begins. When the court martial takes place, the movie becomes a John Grisham story of a young lawyer fighting to bring the evil to justice. Before long, however, the film switches to a human drama about the black soldier singled out to take a fall. But then the film switches to mystery mode when Hart stumbles upon a stealthy plan in the works.
The acting is good, though Willis's part wasn't hard. All he had to do was scowl at his subordinates. Iures aptly conveys subtle changes of emotion.
Because the director, Hoblit, tried to make each scene as keyed-up as possible, the result is not diverse, but overwhelming. By putting too many ingredients in the salad, he spoiled the taste.
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