War is where the Hart is

Hart’s War

Directed by Gregory Hoblit

(Colin Farrell, Bruce Willis, Terrence Howard & Marcel Lures)

R

 

Contrary to what the trailer for Hart’s War implies, this is not some action-packed film in which Bruce Willis crusades across the battlefields of WWII Europe saving soldiers and righting wrongs. There is only one short battle scene, the film takes place almost entirely in a Nazi prisoner of war camp, and Bruce Willis isn’t even the protagonist.

However, while ten minutes into the film you may feel that you have been duped by the old bait-and-switch, the switched product ultimately makes for a far better film.

While there are many twists and turns in the plot, the crux of the film is this: Thomas Hart (played by a brilliantly understated though often too-well-coifed-for-a-POW-camp Colin Farrell) must defend a black American officer wrongfully accused of killing a white American soldier in a makeshift trial.

You see, even surrounded by gun-toting Nazis and the constant threat of death, these white Americans’ racist ideas are so fundamental to who they are that it trumps their sense of kinship with a black American soldier. What results is a trial a la To Kill a Mockingbird, through which the film makes its most interesting points, likening racism of any kind to Nazism, and forcing one to ponder the ramifications of the “melting pot” that is America.

While the film is obviously part of Hollywood’s topical attempt to capitalize on all things war-related, Hart’s War stands in stark contrast to other war films of late. Unlike Blackhawk Down, which proffered the idea that all the rules of war go out the window once the bullets start flying, Hart’s War focuses instead on honor and courage under fire, ideas that ennoble and romanticize war.

No, the film’s agenda is not to browbeat the audience with the idea that “War is Hell”, but instead to, dare I say, glamorize war and champion the utilitarian ideal of sacrificing yourself for the greater good. In fact, the film so imbues you with feelings of nationalism and selflessness that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that President Bush’s speechwriters had penned the script.

ñChristopher Yocum

 

Hart’s War opens this Friday in theaters nationwide