HART'S WAR had potential. The last months of World War Two as a backdrop with demoralized GI's crammed into an overcrowded POW compound. If this picture was soley about the hardships endured by surrendered soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge, then it could have had a chance. Instead the film makers took on too many plots and subplots. Unintentionally the movie borrows from SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, A SOLDIER'S STORY, THE GREAT ESCAPE and STALAG 17. A cardinal rule in war films is that the premise has to be simple. In HART'S WAR we find some good elements lost in a virtual Mulligan stew. In the story Colin Farrell's character, a rear echelon lawyer, accompanies another officer on what he thinks is a joyride. Unfortunately for Farrell, the Germans have launched their attack in the Ardennes. The young lawyer is captured, harshly interrogated, and finally shipped out to a German stalag. There he meets the senior POW officer, played by Bruce Willis, and tries to settle down in the dirty and uncomfortable life of a POW. A soldier is killed and a recently downed Tuskegee airman is accused of murder. Yes, you guessed it. Farrell takes on the aviator's defense during the subsequent courts martial. If director Gregory Hoblit left the storyline to develop around the trial a decent film could have emerged. Instead we have additions of Colonel Hart's unexplained behavior, an mass tunnel escape plot, sabotage and the German Commandant's attempt to befriend the American lawyer as superfluous baggage.
HART'S WAR was filmed in the Czech Republic, no doubt to cut costs. A little more effort and a lot less story and this film would have had a better showing at the box office. Still, if you enjoy war movies you should probably add this DVD to your collection.