Enemy at the Gates

Fell slightly short of the other World War II films of the last few years, all of which felt more 'serious', for want of a better word. It took a fairly Hollywood-hero story and put it in the middle of a situation (and backdrop - the Battle of Stalingrad of 1942) that seemed to deserve something grittier. That said, the story itself was entertaining and originally executed.

A young soviet sharpshooter (Law) is exalted in the propaganda of the government by a war journalist (Fiennes) to inflame Russian pride and the will to fight. It works, his kills mount, his fame spreads, and the Nazis send their most fearsome sniper (Harris) to kill him and end the public relations battle Germany is losing. The machinations of the relationship between the two men are never quite explored or explained clearly enough, and the love triangle ultimately seemed to serve little impact on the story except in a soap opera kind of way.

The device of having all the actors speak English was understandable but didn't work. The result is a laughable bunch of cockney and brummy brogues (including a particularly tepid one by Perlman) running around wartime Russia - they should have found another way to deal with the issues of language. All criticism aside, it painted a grim and horrifying picture of the war as good as in Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List, even if the characterisations were flawed.

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