I don’t have any design issues with Defiance. It’s a well shot film that’s often beautiful. There is the occasional slip up, the occasional hokey moment, but overall the acting is good and the script is good and it all works to a satisfactory level. My problem is a more general one, one that many critics have pointed out: Defiance is a decidedly ordinary film. It lacks a spark; it lacks some modicum of uniqueness or originality. That’s not to say that it copies other films, because it doesn’t really – it’s just a little flat; capably made, but flat. The result is a film that’s well produced, entertaining and interesting, but one that doesn’t stick.
There are a few strange things here and there. I didn’t appreciate the switching between Polish and English by the same characters. Sometimes they talk English but sometimes they don’t, and it’s always seemingly at random. Even stranger are the accents. Liev Schreiber
has no problem with his, but Daniel Craig
’s accent meanders like dandelion fluff in a breeze. The film probably runs a little long, and doesn’t snub clichés. There’s the obligatory ten minute plot thread where Daniel Craig’s leadership is challenged by a misogynistic arrogant male. It would have been nice to see Defiance not dip into the cliché well, but as it is the film’s quotient is fulfilled.
But the film has more positive qualities than bad. I thought the progression and character development was well handled. As the village in the woods is built we get to know the important characters. It’s solid scriptwriting. And even though the entire film takes place in the forest, and we are exposed to myriad dark browns and dark greens, the film is always beautiful and the sights never bore or become bland.
Defiance isn’t perfect, but it’s capable, and it never strays into bad territory – it’s a story, told.