Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Life and death are in a day's work for two snipers in the Battle Stalingrad. Set in World War II with a very strong German offensive attacking ill-equipped, but numerous Soviet foot soldiers, this film focuses on the propaganda effort surrounding the two top snipers.

Since neither side is really "good" per se, the task of becoming the hero lies with Jude Law's character: a shepherd boy from the Urals with a great shot. If he fails, he could be killed by the sharp shooting German or else possibly be executed in shame by the Soviet side.

The film is a study in jealousy, fame, survival, and morale. Though the acting is substantial and the sets, soundtrack and costumes are premium, there just seems to be a little missing in substance. Even with plenty of grime, blood and unshaven scruff, the film just feels a bit to sanitized, a bit too British like the accents the Russian side bears. The characters are a little too good looking and it's easy to dismiss it all as make believe - though the film is based on real characters and events.

It is enjoyable to watch and there are moments of tension. The most memorable scenes are those in which unarmed retreating Soviet soldiers are shot by their own officers at the start of the movie - really a benchmark the rest of the film fails to reach.


No comments: