New Weekly Magazine Australia
30 July 2001
By Tracy Miles
Rating: 3 Stars Really good (next and highest rating - brilliant)
Starring: Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Ed Harris, Rachel Weisz. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud. Rated M
Plot: Russian sharpshooter Vassili Zaitsev (Law) is turned into a much-needed Soviet hero by political officer Danilov (Fiennes), as a propaganda weapon against the Nazi's struggle for Stalingrad. In reply, the Germans send their best sniper (Harris) to kill Zaitsev. Meanwhile, Danilov becomes increasingly jealous of Zaitsev, when they both fall for the same woman (Weisz).
What is right with it?: In a radical change from his petulant playboy in The Talented Mr. Ripley, gorgeous Jude is every bit as charismatic playing a self-doubting sniper. Based on legendary accounts of a real-life Russian hero, the bloody cat and mouse games he plays with veteran Harris, equally superb as the ultra-cool Nazi sniper, are charged with a terrific tension and sense of danger. Despite a cast of thoustands and sweeping vistas, it's these intimate scenes, played out amongst the city ruins, that work best.
What's wrong with it?: Sadly, the love triangle that developes between Jude and fellow Brits Fiennes and the attractive Weisz (all with wavering Russki accents), feels like mushy filler. The predictable romance ends up diluting what could've been a top thriller. And what's with all that slushy music underlining every meaningful moment?
Verdict: An epic aim that rarely misses.