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Film Review: Hart's War

A POW camp, Bruce Willis and - er - a Dub from Castleknock...

After saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line you may not be able to stomach another gritty movie on the horrors of war. Luckily, Harts War is an original slant in the war movie genre.

Colin Farrell in Hart's WarSet at the end of World war II, Colin Farrell plays a law student turned Lieutenant Thomas Hart who ends up in a prisoner of war camp where Colonel McNamara (Bruce Willis) commands the American prisoners. Like any prison the moral norms are blurred and prisoners do what they can to survive. Into this mix comes two black officers who are treated as second class citizens at home, but are commanders of men, in a white army. The resultant tensions lead to a murder-mystery and court martial set against the horrors of war and American civil rights.

Pulling all these themes together is a difficult task. In these times of test screenings, the director Gregory Hoblit chooses the end most suited to post-September 11 America i.e. a large dose of sentimentality and patriotism. Which is a pity as the film is intelligent, well acted, and unflinching, until the end when realism is thrown out the window for a soft ending.

In fact, this may well be the first prisoner of war film where the prisoners put on weight and look better as the film goes on. Enough said.

Kevin Smith

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