Inspired by a true story and set against the siege of Stalingrad during World War II, this is the epic tale of a young Russian sharpshooter, Vassili, who becomes a legend when a savvy political officer makes him the hero of his propaganda campaign. Their friendship is threatened when both men fall in love with a beautiful female soldier. As the battle for the city rages, Vassili faces his ultimate challenge when the Nazi command dispatches its most elite marksman to hunt down and kill the man who has become the hope of all Russia. Their fierce and astonishing duel will help shape the course of history.
A big, hokey, old-style war picture, set during the Nazi siege of Stalingrad in 1942. The story is overloaded and often unconvincing, but Jude Law, playing a real-life Soviet sniper named Vasily Zaitsev, has unquestionable movie-star charisma, and Ed Harris, as Vasily's Nazi nemesis, is steely, sinister and surprisingly human. Their performances and the dexterity with which Jean-Jacques Annaud stages their confrontations stand out from the overloaded script. They are nearly overwhelmed by James Horner's score, which not even bombs and artillery fire can silence. — A. O. Scott.
2001-03-16 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Enemy At the Gates