Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Walking with the Enemy

A great historical story in life is turned into an utterly pedestrian war film.

April 25, 2014

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1399078-Walking_With_the_Enemy_Md.jpg
Inspired by the real-life hero Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum, Walking with the Enemy centers around Elek Cohen (handsome Jonas Armstrong), a Hungarian Jew who rescued his people from the Nazis during World War II. Cohen was originally sentenced to a labor camp and managed to escape, only to find that his home had been taken over by Christians, and his family sent to a concentration camp. He manages to find the girl he loves, Hannah (Hannah Tointon), and joins her at the "Glass House" in Budapest, a diplomatic safe zone run by a Swiss diplomat (William Hope). When Hannah is nearly raped by two Nazi officers, she and Elek manage to kill them and he and a friend subsequently use their uniforms to infiltrate enemy quarters and round up Jews for safety rather than certain death.

Working from a pedestrian script by Kenny Golde, director Mark Schmidt has fashioned a film to match. The Scarlet Pimpernel-like exploits of Cohen should make for exciting onscreen stuff, but so uninspired is the handling here that it lacks anything like the compelling sweep of, say, Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. The film doesn't stint from showing Nazi brutality and heartlessness and the body count may be devastatingly high, but so calculated and predictable are the events shown, always accompanied by a thick aural soup of lousy "stirring" music, that a certain indifferent resistance may set in with the viewer, who might well dismiss this as "just another Holocaust movie." The screenplay not only takes liberties with history—like the fact that Rosenbaum didn't use a Nazi uniform but that of the Arrow Cross, a pro-Hitler Hungarian faction—but is pocked with anachronisms, as when a war-weary character says the one line that should be forever outlawed from usage, "I'm done."

The characters are uniform cardboard clichés, starting with Elek, whose saintly single-mindedness seems just too good to be real, and at times even annoying when Hannah savagely attacks the corpse of her rapist and, ever-humane, he holds her back, soothing her with "It's all right." The fact that she has been molested and her father just shot makes you think, "No, it's not. Just let her have at him, you jerk!" Earlier, he infuriatingly spares the life of another murderous Nazi, and at one point, when told he simply can't save all the Jews, he gives one of those phony humble-savior-of-the-people responses: "I'm just doing what every man should do."

One of the most villainous Nazis, Colonel Skorzeny, was noted for a famous fencing scar, the obviousness of which probably made the filmmakers jump for joy, and Burn Gorman indeed plays him as Evil Incarnate, looking like a disfigured Willem Dafoe. Ben Kingsley (with a fake schnoz) is in his full tiresome Great Man mode as the well-meaning Regent Horthy, remarking in a near- impenetrable accent, "What is there to contemplate? Stalin murders his own people, Hitler wants to purify the world. Both crazed supremacists. How is one to choose?"

Click here for cast and crew information.


Film Review: Walking with the Enemy

A great historical story in life is turned into an utterly pedestrian war film.

April 25, 2014

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1399078-Walking_With_the_Enemy_Md.jpg

Inspired by the real-life hero Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum, Walking with the Enemy centers around Elek Cohen (handsome Jonas Armstrong), a Hungarian Jew who rescued his people from the Nazis during World War II. Cohen was originally sentenced to a labor camp and managed to escape, only to find that his home had been taken over by Christians, and his family sent to a concentration camp. He manages to find the girl he loves, Hannah (Hannah Tointon), and joins her at the "Glass House" in Budapest, a diplomatic safe zone run by a Swiss diplomat (William Hope). When Hannah is nearly raped by two Nazi officers, she and Elek manage to kill them and he and a friend subsequently use their uniforms to infiltrate enemy quarters and round up Jews for safety rather than certain death.

Working from a pedestrian script by Kenny Golde, director Mark Schmidt has fashioned a film to match. The Scarlet Pimpernel-like exploits of Cohen should make for exciting onscreen stuff, but so uninspired is the handling here that it lacks anything like the compelling sweep of, say, Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. The film doesn't stint from showing Nazi brutality and heartlessness and the body count may be devastatingly high, but so calculated and predictable are the events shown, always accompanied by a thick aural soup of lousy "stirring" music, that a certain indifferent resistance may set in with the viewer, who might well dismiss this as "just another Holocaust movie." The screenplay not only takes liberties with history—like the fact that Rosenbaum didn't use a Nazi uniform but that of the Arrow Cross, a pro-Hitler Hungarian faction—but is pocked with anachronisms, as when a war-weary character says the one line that should be forever outlawed from usage, "I'm done."

The characters are uniform cardboard clichés, starting with Elek, whose saintly single-mindedness seems just too good to be real, and at times even annoying when Hannah savagely attacks the corpse of her rapist and, ever-humane, he holds her back, soothing her with "It's all right." The fact that she has been molested and her father just shot makes you think, "No, it's not. Just let her have at him, you jerk!" Earlier, he infuriatingly spares the life of another murderous Nazi, and at one point, when told he simply can't save all the Jews, he gives one of those phony humble-savior-of-the-people responses: "I'm just doing what every man should do."

One of the most villainous Nazis, Colonel Skorzeny, was noted for a famous fencing scar, the obviousness of which probably made the filmmakers jump for joy, and Burn Gorman indeed plays him as Evil Incarnate, looking like a disfigured Willem Dafoe. Ben Kingsley (with a fake schnoz) is in his full tiresome Great Man mode as the well-meaning Regent Horthy, remarking in a near- impenetrable accent, "What is there to contemplate? Stalin murders his own people, Hitler wants to purify the world. Both crazed supremacists. How is one to choose?"

Click here for cast and crew information.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Amira & Sam
Film Review: Amira & Sam

A potentially intriguing interracial love story between an ex-soldier and Middle Eastern lass feels much too forced and contrived. More »

The Devils Violinist
Film Review: The Devil's Violinist

The latest classical-music legend to have his life trashed–again—by a cheaply sensationalistic movie, this famed fiddler deserved way better. More »

Backstreet Boys
Film Review: Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of

The ’90s boy band dusts itself off for a self-congratulatory, and not especially revelatory, career retrospective on the occasion of their 20th anniversary tour. More »

Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts 2015
Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Documentary

The long shadow and in-your-face reality of mortality shadows nearly all the entries in this year’s powerful, draining Oscar-nominated documentary short films program. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Project Almanac
Film Review: Project Almanac

Saying this underbaked Chronicle knockoff is meant for teenagers is an insult to the intelligence of teenagers everywhere. More »

The Wedding Ringer
Film Review: The Wedding Ringer

Intermittently amusing bro-comedy trifle that confirms Kevin Hart's talent, though not his taste in material. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here