The overwrought production is as pedestrian as the script’s pretense.  There’s plenty of gunplay to be had (from point-blank murders to trench-like warfare) along with full-blown battle sequences with the requisite blood, bombs and gore (and bombastic music score).  There’s an offensive affectation to it all, as its stylistic goals are more tactlessly blockbuster than gritty realism.  In short, Defiance turns the horrors of war into a multiplex entertainment, and the end result is not enlightening but merely gratuitous.

For as sincere as Zwick probably is, his films feel like they’re more interested in making $100 million than anything else.  Defiance is no different as it reduces life’s horrors to genre elements, taking it as an opportunity to shoot bad guys and blow things up real good.  After Schindler’s List (which this film aspires to equal), Steven Spielberg said he could no longer use Nazis as stock villains.  Zwick apparently does not suffer from any such moral dilemma.  This is pulp, not art, and what’s insulting is that it deems itself the latter.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Smoking and drinking occur.  A 12-year-old is offered a drink at one point, but other than that it's pretty standard fare. 
  • Language/Profanity:  Most profanities—including a few “F” words—and general vain exclamatory uses of the word “God.”
  • Sex/Nudity:  No nudity, but sex is inferred to have happened when a man and woman lie under a blanket together (with no clothes on).  Women bathe in a stream covered with only thin slips that cling to their bodies.  A woman offers herself to a man for protection; he touches her clothed breast.  A rape is discussed but not shown.
  • Violence/Other:  A few killings by gun at point-blank range, some in a vengeful rather than defensive context.  Multiple shootings of individuals occur throughout.  Stabbing a man’s crotch.  There are several bloody beatings.  A German soldier is murdered by an angry mob of Jews.  A woman is forced to shoot a dog that attacks her.  Many scenes of war combat.  Violence is generally bloody and explicit.


 
Jeffrey Huston is a film director, writer and producer at Steelehouse Productions in Tulsa, Okla.  He is also cohost of the "Steelehouse Podcast,” along with Steelehouse Executive Creative Mark Steele, where each week they discuss God in pop culture. 

To listen to the weekly podcast, please visit www.steelehouse.com or click here.  You can also subscribe to the "Steelehouse Podcast” through iTunes.