Defiance (2008)

Genre(s): Drama / War
Paramount Vantage || R - 136 minutes - $29.99 || June 2, 2009
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-06-15

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Edward Zwick
Writer(s): Nechama Tec (book); Clayton Frohman and Edward Zwick (screenplay)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Live Schreiber, Jamie Bell

Theatrical Release Date: January 16, 2009

Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • 3 Featurettes

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Synopsis: Daniel Craig stars as Tuvia Bielski, an ordinary citizen turned hero, in this action-packed epic of family, honor, vengeance and salvation. Defiance is a riveting adventure that showcases the extraordinary true story of the Bielski brothers, simple farmers-outnumbered and outgunned- who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters. Tuvia, along with his unyielding brother Zus (Live Schrieber), motivate hundreds of civilians to join their ranks against the Nazi regime.

Basically the movie is about Tuvia and Zus taking a group of soldiers and fighting the Nazi soldiers. Iíll be honest; I didnít really ďgetĒ the movie like I normally do. The pacing of it isnít the best, as its long runtime (two hours plus) is a bit of a turn off for me. Thereís also a few war scenes that made me squirm, and trust me, I never squirm. Iíve seen most war movies to come out over the past few years and everything in the horror genre, but there were a handful that made me cringe. One in particular happens near the beginning of the movie where Zus is hiding in the bushes and a Nazi soldier goes to relieve himself and Zus getsÖ wellÖ yeah. Zus stabs the guy inÖ yeah you get where Iím going with this. It hurt me just watching it.

While I didnít find the movie itself to be great, the acting in this one is incredibly. Craig and Schreiber along with their supporting cast mates are phenomenal. They actually had me believing they were in the wartime, as they spoke their words with great accents and diction. Every line they said was superb, and probably some of the best acting Iíve ever seen the two in. Yes, I said it, Craig is better at acting in this movie than both of his Bond films together. That being said though, not all is good in the acting world in the movie. At some points, I felt that the acting was a bit too over-dramatized. The scenes in the beginning just felt too tacked on, and the characters (sides Craig and Schreiber) didnít really set the bar as high as their fellow cast members. Itís not a terrible thing, but these two are the breakout stars of the flick by far. I loved the Bond flicks, but its movies like this that prevent him from being typecast. Granted, Schreiber canít say the same as this was made well before the recent Wolverine flick came out, but he is still great in this as he was in that one as well.

The main issue besides the runtime I have with this movie is the simple fact that the plot takes forever to pan out, and even when it does, I felt like I was losing interest in it. It took me nearly an hour to get interested in the film, but I quickly lost interest. The film is just way too much dialogue and not enough action or me. I was expecting at least half the movie to be guns blazing, people dying, and all the other great things that come with the war genre. There really wasnít a lot of that here featured in the film, which disappointed me greatly. The last battle, which lasts a decent amount of time, just didnít do it for me. It felt like it was over before it actually began.

Iím not saying Defiance is a terrible movie by any means, but I felt like had they shortened the runtime by at least twenty-thirty minutes, made it more about the war itself rather than primarily two characters, and toned down the acting just a smidge that this would have been a better movie overall. Craig has broken out of the stereotypical Bond shell, but for how long can he hold it?


Commentary by Edward Zwick: Zwick sounds like he typed up a giant script for this commentary and is just reading off it the entire time. He keeps pace for the film, but his monotone voice and his topics about the flick just didnít sound entertaining. He does praise and say nearly the same things I did about the cast of the film. Iíd recommend passing on this one.

The Making of Defiance (26 minutes): The director and others talk about the importance of the brothers and a few of the scenes are shown how they were put together. It runs longer than it should (like the movie) but if you found the flick interesting then this will be just as entertaining for you.

Children of the Otriad (14 minutes): The children talk about their parents and grandparents and their backgrounds. I didnít find this all that interesting, as it didnít appeal to me in the slightest.

Bielski Partisan Survivors (2 minutes): Pictures of the refugee group are shown.


This is a dark movie, make no mistake about it. The color palette is pretty dark and colors arenít exactly shown in great quantities. There is also distinct noise and distortion apparent in multiple scenes, mainly in the nighttime ones. It got increasingly annoying for me to see the specks pop up every few minutes, although Iím sure most people wonít notice or be able to just disregard after a few times of seeing them. Thereís also a ton of grain present in the nighttime scenes as well, but it doesnít affect the picture that much (in comparison to the specks, anyway).

For a war film, I was heavily disappointed with this track. Dialogue (even though some of it isnít spoken but read on the bottom thru subtitles) sounds low and slightly off-kilter, as I had trouble making out what some of the characters were saying at various points in the movie. The action sequences also didnít sound up to the bar in comparison to past films Iíve seen, so yet again I was underwhelmed by it. The gunshots sounded dull and flat and the dialogue just wasnít as ďboomingĒ as I was expecting it to be. The track still accomplishes what most people intend it to do, which is get them through the movie. It does so, but doesnít stack up to other recent releases.


The long running time hurts the film in the big scheme of things, and it takes forever to get going (in the sense of action and a plot). The technical package is average, but the special features will only interest those who enjoyed the movie or like knowing more about the background of the film. If you choose to defy this review, then I suggest a rental. To all those who donít defy me, just steer clear.