Hart’s War (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Col. William McNamara (Bruce Willis) is a fourth generation war veteran, but right now, he isn’t out on the front lines of World War II. Instead, he is held prisoner inside a Nazi camp and while his freedom has been taken, his sense of honor and patriotism can never be stripped. As the highest ranked prisoner, he serves as a leader to his fellow inmates and even inside this camp, his mind churns out plans to overcome. The camp is run by German Col. Werner Visser (Marcel Iures), who has an iron hand and vigilant eye, so he makes sure the prisoners remain in line at all times. As time passes, McNamara bides his time and waits for the right moment, so he can strike out at his enemies and attempt to move his men out of the prisoner camp. When a black soldier is accused of murder and sentenced to be executed, McNamara steps up and demands a trial for his fellow soldier, which might give him the chance he needs. But in order to put his plan into motion, he needs the help of Lt. Tommy Hart (Colin Farrell), whom he doesn’t have too much faith in. The plan is a dangerous one and puts all the soldiers at risk, but McNamara and his men would rather die in an escape attempt, as opposed to resolving themselves to defeat. But can even these men with their intense resolve manage to pull off such a daring escape?

This is the kind of movie that keeps your attention as you watch, but once you’ve left the theater, you don’t have a burning desire to discuss what you’ve seen. I mean, I was entertained by Hart’s War and even enjoyed it the second time around, but it simply never pushes itself to be great, leaving it at good, but not that memorable. The film is a mix of a traditional suspense movie, courtroom drama, and escape picture, which works well enough and while we have to suspend disbelief at times, most of the plot is rock solid. The scenes framed around the escape highlight the movie, as the courtroom scenes don’t have the needed fire, so the dramatic impact just isn’t what it should be. As time passes, the movie seems to settle for cliches more and more, but before it runs out of steam, Hart’s War has some good moments. I was let down by the finale as well, but to be honest, I knew how the plot would unfold early on, so it is a bit predictable. This new Blu-ray version only offers a trailer, but the video looks impressive, so its up to your own preferences as to an upgrade.

If you went by the trailers and ad campaigns for Hart’s War, you’d have to think Bruce Willis was the main man, but as it turns out, that isn’t the case. Yes, Willis has an important role and gets ample screen time, but Colin Farrell has the true central focus. I didn’t think Farrell’s performance was bad by any means, but he seemed to have a little too much face time here, when Willis’ presence could have lifted up the picture. In truth, those courtroom scenes might have had that spark they need if Willis were better used, as Farrell simply either sleepwalks at times, or just couldn’t muster the needed dramatic presence. But Willis is able to make good use of what time he has, which should have been more substantial, if you ask me. Other films with Willis include Unbreakable, Bandits, Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, and The Fifth Element. The cast also includes Colin Farrell (American Outlaws, Tigerland), Cole Hauser (Pitch Black, Good Will Hunting), and Terrence Howard (Big Momma’s House, Angel Eyes).

Video: How does it look?

Hart’s War is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The standard DVD release had an excellent transfer, even by current DVD standards. So while the improvements here are evident, they’re not as pronounced, since the previous transfer was so solid. Of course, detail is enhanced all around, with crystal clear close ups that yield impeccable visuals. Not just the close shots either, but all the scenes showcase more depth and clarity, though some distant shots do suffer from some softness. I found colors to be bright and natural, while contrast is stark and consistent. This is just a wonderful visual effort and while not an elite level transfer, the movie looks superb and fans should be thrilled.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD soundtrack on deck is a good one, able to balance the subtle scenes with the more dynamic ones, without missing a single step. The surrounds don’t rumble throughout, but there is a good amount of power to be found at times. The atmosphere is well crafted and you’ll hear a lot of background elements and small touches that add to the experience. You’ll feel like you’re trapped in the camp yourself, which as I said, makes the experience more immersive. As far as dialogue, I heard no errors from the vocals, while the music is clear and crisp, with good presence. This disc also includes French and Spanish language options, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

Disc Scores