Hart’s War

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t watch a movie with Colin Farrell in it. But I was in a bar, sitting in a booth right in front of the tv and downing a few vodkas with my chopsuey. See, I had no choice to change the channels. Hart’s War stars Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard and has a rather younger Sam Worthington in a tiny role. The movie came out in 2002 and actually flopped. Made on a budget of $70 mil the movie has only grossed a little over $33 mil till date. And that’s a shame as it really is a good film with some commendable performances in it.

As far as American movies on war goes, it’s very humble. The movie shows some of the racist behaviour in the military even while the US & it’s allies are fighting the Nazis. So how can you show contempt to a black man who is fighting by your side while trying to defeat the enemy? This is brought to light in the movie. Lt. Hart (Farrell) is captured and interrogated by German commandos in Nazi occupied Belgium. Fearing frostbite and threatened with pneumonia, he is coerced into divulging intelligence to his German interrogator.

He is sent to a POW camp where Col. William McNamara suspects that Hart cooperated with the Nazis while he was interrogated. Although Hart denies it, the Colonel does not reveal his suspicions to Hart and sends him to bunk in a barracks for enlisted men, rather than allow him to bunk with the other officers. A little later the soldiers in the barracks are joined by  two negro Second Lieutenants, Lincoln A. Scott (Terrence Howard) and Lamar T. Archer (Vicellous Reon Shannon). They are the only blacks in the camp, and their situation is compounded by their status as officers. Staff Sergeant Vic W. Bedford (Cole Hauser), a vicious racist, is their primary antagonist.

Bedford, who is collaborating with the Nazis for favours, frames Archer for concealing a weapon; the later is dragged out by the Germans and shot dead. Directly after that, a radio used by the Americans to receive coded messages via the BBC is found and destroyed. Bedford himself is soon found dead, with Lt. Scott standing by his dead body. The Lt is apprehended and accused of killing Bedford for revenge. A law student at Yale before the war, Hart is appointed by McNamara to defend the accused pilot at his court-martial, a trial to which the camp commandant, Oberst Werner Visser (Marcel Iure?), agrees. While the trial goes on, Hart soon discovers that it is only a sham to distract the Nazis while 34 soldiers led by the colonel escape through a tunnel and destroy a munitions factory which the Allies believe to be a shoe manufactures’.

Feigning food poisoning the colonel & the 34 soldiers get their job done. In order to cover their escape, Hart at the trial ‘confesses’ to killing Bedford and is bought out for execution by the Nazi colonel. However on hearing this, Col. McNamara comes back into the camp and accepts responsibility as the senior most officer and is instantly shot dead by his Nazi counterpart.  Hart leads the salute to McNamara’s dead body. Three months later, the German army surrenders to the Allies and the prison camp is liberated.

I’m surprised that this movie did so badly at the box office. I really like it; 7 outta 10.