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(2001) (Jude Law, Ed Harris) (R)

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Action/Drama/Suspense: A WWII Russian sniper must deal with his feelings toward his female comrade while also simultaneously trying to avoid and kill a legendary German sniper who's been sent in to kill him.
It's 1942 and like many other young Russians, Vassili Zaitsev (JUDE LAW) and Tania (RACHEL WEISZ) have arrived on the shores of the Volga River, ready to enter Stalingrad where German forces are doing their best to capture the war-ravaged city and further demoralize the nation. When Vassili impresses Danilov (JOSEPH FIENNES), a political officer, and saves his life with his sharpshooting skills, the native propagandist decides to glorify the soldier. He steps this up even further once visiting commissar Nikita Khrushchev (BOB HOSKINS) learns of Vassili's heroism.

The young soldier soon becomes a national hero to the locals -- including Sacha (GABRIEL MARSHALL-THOMSON), a boy who takes it upon himself to infiltrate the Germans for information -- and the bane of those German forces. Accordingly, they call in Major Koenig (ED HARRIS), a legendary aristocratic sniper, to eradicate Vassili and thus destroy the military and political icon.

From that point on and while working with other snipers such as Koulikov (RON PERLMAN), Vassili must deal with both himself and Danilov falling for Tania, all while also dealing with the seasoned and ever resourceful Koenig whose only objective is to find and kill him.

If they're into war movies or are fans of someone in the cast, they might, but this seems most enticing to male teens.
For strong graphic war violence and some sexuality.
  • JUDE LAW plays a highly proficient and young Russian sniper who becomes a somewhat unwillingly heroic icon during the war. He smokes a few times, uses a bit of profanity and has sex with Tania all while having to deal with Koenig's efforts to find and kill him.
  • ED HARRIS plays a legendary German sniper whose only objective is to find and kill Vassili. He also smokes.
  • JOSEPH FIENNES plays an aggressive political officer and propagandist who's hoping to ride Vassili's coattails into success for himself. He also falls for Tania and becomes jealous of her relationship with Vassili.
  • RACHEL WEISZ plays a young, Russian solider who fights right alongside the men and has sex with Vassili.
  • BOB HOSKINS plays Russian commissar Khrushchev who cusses a few times
  • RON PERLMAN plays a Russian military sniper who works with Vassili.
  • GABRIEL MARSHALL-THOMSON plays a boy who acts somewhat as a double agent while trying to infiltrate the Germans for information.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated action drama. Being a war flick, it's filled with various instances of war-related violence, with many people being wounded or killed in graphic fashion by both standard battle violence and the lethal action of the snipers. Not surprisingly, a great deal of blood and gore is also present, and such scenes and others may be unsetting, tense and/or suspenseful to some viewers.

    Parties on both sides of the conflict have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while 1 possible "f" word is uttered (in the middle of a loud scene) and various expletives and a handful of colorful phrases are present. One sensuous sex scene features related movement and sounds occurring beneath a blanket, along with some brief nudity as a couple have sex among other nearby, but sleeping soldiers. Other brief nonsexual nudity is also briefly present.

    Beyond that, various characters drink and smoke. Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself of anyone in your home who wishes to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs and is present in the film.

  • We see what's presumably vodka next to a Russian officer.
  • Koenig has some wine in front of him.
  • Danilov and Khrushchev drink several shots of vodka.
  • Koenig drinks some sort of liquor.
  • As various soldiers are graphically hit by machine gun and handgun fire, blood spurts out of them and splatters onto others, and we see various dead and/or bloody bodies.
  • We briefly see an injured soldier who's missing his leg (and see the resultant blood).
  • In the next assault, more soldiers who are wounded or killed by gunfire and explosions are bloody (with more graphic wounds and blood spurting out, etc.).
  • Danilov and Vassili hide among many dead and bloody bodies, and Danilov's face is a bit bloody.
  • As Vassili shoots many Germans in sniper mode, we see graphic bullet wounds to their heads (blood spurting out, etc.).
  • Blood squirts out as a person is shot, and then does so for another person who's shot in the head.
  • Vassili has a little bit of blood on his head after a close call with a bombing run.
  • A man has a few bloody cuts on his face.
  • Blood squirts out and splatters onto a wall and a second man as a soldier is shot in the head.
  • A man who's been shot and wounded is bloody.
  • Koenig's hand is bloody after he's shot there (and some blood squirts out upon impact). We later see him with a bloodstained bandage on that hand.
  • We see the side of a Russian's bare butt (from a distance) as he purposefully farts near a candle (we hear the fart).
  • Vassili hides himself among many dead bodies as he waits for Koenig.
  • An explosion injures several people, one of them quite bad (with blood on the face and blood seemingly bubbling out from a belly wound).
  • Several more people who are shot are bloody and/or have graphic wounds.
  • The various participants on either side of the military conflict obviously have extreme cases of both toward one another (and the Russians even shoot their own soldiers who try to get out of harm's way or retreat from the front line).
  • Koenig uses one of Vassili's captured team members as bait against him, and bribes Sacha with chocolate and other items for info about the Russians and specifically Vassili, which the boy easily gives up (he's something of a juvenile double agent).
  • Vassili has sex with Tania, knowing that Danilov is interested in her.
  • A miscellaneous soldier steals personal items from dead bodies.
  • Jealous of Vassili and Tania being together, Danilov briefly sets out to ruin Vassili by spreading lies about him and his loyalty.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling and/or suspenseful to some viewers, especially the first scene set in Stalingrad (where many are killed on boats trying to get into the city) and then the many cat and mouse-type sniper scenes.
  • We see a flashback to a young Vassili who's in hiding, preparing to shoot a wolf that's being drawn in by a tied-up horse. Later, and in a dream, the wolf closes in, Vassili's grandfather demands that the boy shoot and we briefly see some quickly cut shots of the wolf attacking the horse.
  • Vassili and another sniper slowly make their way through a torn-up department store building, looking for a German sniper who could be hiding anywhere. While doing so, they then spot bombers that are flying their way, dropping bombs in a line coming right at them.
  • The Germans capture one of Vassili's sniper team members, dress him up as a German and send him out in the city, hoping to lure Vassili into shooting him and thus disclosing his location.
  • Koenig has Vassili pinned down and unarmed behind a small piece of furniture and waits for any part of his body to move out so that he can shoot him.
  • Vassili positions himself among many dead bodies and then lies in wait for Koenig and is nearly discovered by him as well as a soldier stealing personal items from the bodies.
  • Sniper rifles/Machine guns/Handguns/Various forms of artillery/Bombs: Used to threaten, wound or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Sh*tting their pants," "They don't give a sh*t," "Balls" (testicles) and "Bastard."
  • It's possible that some impressionable kids could get the idea to act as snipers after watching the film.
  • We see in flashback that Vassili's grandfather has tied-up a horse to try to lure in a wolf so that young Vassili can shoot the wolf in a sniper-like fashion.
  • We see the side of a Russian's bare butt (from a distance) as he purposefully farts near a candle.
  • A few of the sniper/gunshot moments might startle some viewers (from the suddenness and related sounds of such moments).
  • A heavy amount of ominous/suspenseful music occurs in the film.
  • None.
  • 1 possible "f" word (said during a very loud scene) and at least 4 "s" words, 1 ass, 1 S.O.B., 3 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "My God" as exclamations.
  • We see the side of a Russian's bare butt (from a distance) as he purposefully farts near a candle.
  • Tania quietly lies down next to Vassili among the many other male soldiers who are sleeping side by side in an open room. After a moment, she kisses his bare belly and then works on his pants, eventually putting her hand down inside them (while some heavy breathing starts). They then kiss and she pulls down her pants (we briefly see her bare butt) and he crawls up on top of her (briefly having to freeze when someone walks by). In a very sensuous scene, they then have sex as quietly as possible, and we see movement under their sheet along with their pleasured facial reactions and hear their muffled sexual sounds (with him having to keep her quiet at times) until they climax.
  • Koenig and Vassili smoke several times, while Tania and Koulikov smoke once, while some miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • We hear that the Germans killed Tania's parents, while Koenig briefly mentions that his son died in the war.
  • The historical accuracy of the film and/or any artistic license taken with it.
  • Snipers, their role in the military, and the psychological effects that practicing such violence must have on them.
  • Why the Russian officers shot their own people (for trying to jump off a ship in the line of strafing fire and for retreating from the front lines, etc.).
  • Why Vassili wasn't initially given a rifle (probably due to equipment shortages faced by the Russians).
  • As the young and scared Russian soldiers arrive outside Stalingrad and must travel across a river to get into the city, various explosives land all around them, hitting one boat and destroying it, killing or injuring those on board. German fighters then repeatedly strafe the boats, killing many people with their machine gun fire and destroying more boats.
  • Russian officers shoot and kill their own men who jump overboard to get away from the strafing runs.
  • Russian soldiers try to rush a German stronghold, with most of them being shot and mowed down by machine gun fire and killed by various explosions.
  • The Russians shoot and kill their own men who are trying to retreat from the front line.
  • Danilov's car is fired upon as he races through the ravaged city, eventually wrecking (and he's slightly injured). German soldiers then come looking for him, firing their machine guns into a pile of bodies in which they think he's hiding.
  • As more Germans arrive on the scene, Danilov and Vassili hide in a fountain, with the latter picking off the Germans one by one in graphic sniper fashion (killing around five people).
  • As Khrushchev arrives in the city, soldiers push and/or pull civilians away from him and his ship.
  • After Khrushchev gives a Russian officer a handgun to kill himself over his military failure in the city, we wait knowing that we'll eventually hear the off-camera gunshot, which we do.
  • Vassili shoots and presumably kills a German sniper.
  • One of Vassili's sniper team members is shot in the head and killed.
  • Bombers drop bombs on the city, blowing up many buildings and other property.
  • A sniper shoots a female sniper hunting for him.
  • Germans fire their machine guns at Vassili, Koulikov and another man as they race from one building to the next, shooting a few holes through Koulikov's pants leg (but not injuring him).
  • Vassili's sniper team shoots a German repairman, and Koulikov then shoots another man dead.
  • Koenig shoots a man dead as he jumps through an opening in a building.
  • More people are wounded or killed in another military skirmish with gunfire and tanks firing, etc.
  • Koenig shoots and wounds a man.
  • Bombers drop their bombs, damaging buildings and causing huge shards of glass to nearly fall on Vassili.
  • Vassili shoots Koenig in the hand.
  • More people are wounded or killed again in another military skirmish with gunfire and tanks firing, etc.
  • A thief is shot in the leg.
  • We see that Koenig has hanged a boy (and see the body hanging in the air from a distance).
  • An explosion injures several people, one of them quite severely.
  • Two more men are shot and killed (with shots to their heads).

  • Reviewed March 12, 2001 / Posted March 16, 2001

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