Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Hart's War

MPAA Rating: R for some strong war violence and language

Reviewed by: Denny Wayman and Hal Conklin
CONTRIBUTORS

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
2 hr. 5 min.
Year of Release:
2002
Bruce Willis in “Hart’s War”

Starring: Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard, Cole Hauser, Vicellous Shannon | Directed by: Gregory Hoblit | Produced by: David Foster, David Ladd, Gregory Hoblit, Arnold Rifkin | Written by: Billy Ray, Terry George, Jeb Stuart, Alfonso Cuaron | Distributor: MGM

“Hart’s War” poses the question of the value of one human life over the good of the country. Set in Stalag VI, the World War II Belgium prisoner of war camp run by the Nazis, we are witnesses to the kind of decisions of conscience that no one would ever want to face. When do you sacrifice the life of someone innocent for some greater good?

The current round of films situated in the struggles of war are reminders of the values that shaped our personal and collective characters during the Second World War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. The sacrifices required during World War II seemed clearer cut, but no war prepares us for the impact that the deaths of others will have on our own souls.

Lieutenant Thomas Hart (Colin Farrell) is the son of a U.S. Senator that is destined for an easy ride during the last days of the war. Entering the service while attending law school, young Lt. Hart never expected to be captured and sent to a POW camp. And certainly, he never expected to have to stage a trial and defend a black prisoner of war falsely accused of murder.

Race relations in the newly integrated army are the basis of the struggle of conscience that Lt. Hart faces in the camp. The ranking prisoner of war, Col. William A. McNamara (Bruce Willis) uses the race struggle to mask and divert his secret plot against the German camp commander. Meanwhile, a racist soldier, Vic Bedford (Cole Hauser), plays into his hands by falsely accusing an African-American officer, Lt. Lincoln Scott (Terrence Howard), of murder. Needing a diversion for his plot against the Nazis, Col. McNamara demands that Lt. Hart put this disdained black officer on trial for his life. If Hart cannot prove his innocence, then the Germans will have him executed.

Hart’s War is a reminder of just how far we have come in one generation of racial integration. While stories like “Black Hawk Down” renew our sense of commitment to never leaving one of our soldiers behind, Hart’s War reminds us that only a few short years ago, many soldiers would have offered up their black compatriots in order to save their own necks.

Without giving away the ending, Col. William McNamara’s conscience ultimately redeems Lt. Lincoln Scott and saves him from the death penalty. But the bigger question during this “heart’s war” is what values are we willing to sacrifice in the name of protecting the values we claim to defend? There are no easy answers.

Reprinted with permission from CinemaInFocus.com

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There were brief moments of strong language and violence, but hey, this was a war movie. I wish I would have taken my 13 year old son and I still probably will. (or rent the video.) I believe it could be a great tool to initiate a discussion about racism, war, murder, honor, courage, sacrifice, duty, and treachery.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Mark L. Gilliam, age 40
Positive—Hart’s War was a good movie. However, from the previews it is NOT exactly what it portrays itself to be. If you see the commercial, you think you’re going to see a modern day Hogan’s Heroes where WWII POWs from a German POW camp try to escape. What you end up with in reality is a combination of Remember the Titans and Rules of Engagement in a Hogan’s Hero setting. My motivation for going was to see a good WWII movie (like Saving Private Ryan) and it turned out not to be what I expected. The war action is very minimal, whereas character interaction and court room drama comprises most of the movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Dave C., age 31

I think it is time we appoint a new category for violence. We have cartoon violence, why not war violence? The violence in Hart’s War is brutal but is not over the top. It does depict the reality of the violence war brings. However, this plays a small part in the movie. Other objectional content would be two male nudity scenes. However, the nudity was all from the side, basically a man squatting cowering in the corner filmed from the side. The language is also offensive. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to any children under 15. This, mostly due to the war violence (brains sprayed onto another soldier after an execution.)

I do feel this movie opens up many subjects which a parent may wish to discuss in the movie such as racism, honor, and integrity. John 15: 13 comes to mind as a great example of what takes place in the movie. The majority of the movie deals with racism, honor, duty, and betrayal.

Parents: Use discretion with bringing your kids to see this film. At the right age and maturity, however, a teenager could learn a lot about these subjects with the proper guidance as well as a smaller scale example of what Christ did for us on the cross.
My Ratings: [Better than Average]
—Will Livingston

Comments from young people
Positive—THIS MOVIE WAS FANTASTIC, it had all the things I like—racism issues and fighting. To deny this movies’ greatness is to say that these issues had not happened.
My Ratings: [5]
—Daryl, age 17
Movie Critics
…Examples of heroism are displayed by all the characters, but frequent obscenities and strong profanity, along with some overly graphic violence make HART’S WAR a losing battle…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…9 F-words, 9 scatological references, 1 anatomical term, 10 mild obscenities, 7 derogatory terms for African-Americans and many racist remarks… 2 religious profanities or exclamation…
—Kids-in-Mind