The year is 1942 and the Nazis are cutting a deadly swath through Russia. Under the leadership of Khrushchev (Bob Hoskins), the citizens of Stalingrad are mounting a brave resistance, spurred by the exploits of their local hero, Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law). An expert sniper, Vassili's deeds have become legendary - thanks to propaganda produced by Vassili's best friend, a political officer named Danilov (Joseph Fiennes). To stop Vassili, the Germans dispatch their best sniper, Major Konig (Ed Harris), to Stalingrad. When Vassili and Danilov both fall in love with a beautiful soldier (Rachel Weisz), Danilov deserts his friend, leaving Vassili to face his German counterpart alone. As the city burns, Vassili and Konig begin a cunning game of cat and mouse, waging a private war for courage, honor and country. (official distributor synopsis)


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English The opening combat sequence is fantastic and emotionally it’s almost on par with the opening half hour of Ryan in its visual filth and shocking naturalism. Annaud once again confirms what a voluminous visual imagination and impressive storytelling talent he was blessed with; the climactic scenes in the more psychologically oriented rest of the film are still among the best in their genre (especially the nerve-wracking and artfully drawn-out "rear-view mirror" scene is breathtaking) and the atmosphere of the Stalingrad inferno gets deep under the skin, even if it sets an unbeatable bar for itself in the first minutes. But all of the aforementioned highlights, including the unique duel between two very charismatic snipers (thanks to Ed Harris's demonic dimension, we don't even know who to actually root for), are consistently undermined by dysfunctional subplots regarding a somewhat sentimentally-emphasized romance or politics, which are unnecessary to the development and stretch the runtime disproportionately to the key attractive action. Had Annaud kept an eye on it and not slipped into cheap Hollywood twists, it would have been clearly worth 5*... ()


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English The opening is gripping, the view of war-torn Stalingrad, looking rather like hell, the crossing of the Volga with the help of Messerschmidts and the subsequent attack leading to a bloodbath - that's a nice piece of filmmaking. The production design as a whole is monumental and it’s one of the film’s assets. But after the opening act, the film drags and suffers from a number of screenwriting holes. But it is watchable, also thanks to the trio Law, Weisz, Harris. ()



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English Respect for Annaud, the futility with which he handles with monumental scenes. It doesn't make sense that all these spectacular mob attacks and massive explosions are just a sauce in which float the fates of a politician, a USSR hero and a German Wehrmacht Major. The modest Soviet boy Vasilij is a prime example of political propaganda that can turn a gifted pawn into a symbol. Likewise, Vasilij and politician Danilov's relationship is an illustration of the Western view of the Stalinist machine, in which a devout communist can come to his senses and see through the ideological masquerade in a matter of minutes. It’s a bit of melodramatic sci-fi ala Hollywood. However, otherwise it is an excellent intimate thriller with magnificent backdrops, a very nice camera, riveting tension and excellent actors. The fact that in the end the Soviet hero comes out the same as the American one is probably the expected tax to be paid by the audience. But notice the silent distancing Jude Law maintains in the face of painted Stalin... Correct, but overly so. ()


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English A relatively cold about a top sniper. Although Jean-Jacques Annaud intersperses it with his typically monumental and meticulously detailed production design, the war itself is not realistic or bombastically shot to immerse the viewer in the plot. The story of the two elite snipers is uncomfortably sterile and drawn-out in many passages in the second half. Additionally, the constant presence of English in a setting like the Battle of Stalingrad is very distracting. The excellent performance by Ed Harris, plenty of blood, and several stunning sniper shootouts are good, but otherwise, considering the marketing campaign and all the hype surrounding it, it's just an average genre film. ()


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English Annaud can present tension and a reasonable dose of war adventure to the viewer, but I do not get the impression of authenticity from his war epic despite the obvious effort and the decent budget. It is a somewhat naive film made about a foreign country and historical events, which the film crew looks at from a great distance and without the ability or willingness to truly understand them. Jude Law, with all due respect, does not come across as a Slavic boy from Siberia, and the "Russian" characters somehow feel alien. Enemy at the Gates had greater potential, but it is still a decent war spectacle with plenty of star actors on the screen. Overall impression: 75%. ()

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