I rented this movie on the recommendation of several guys that I know through precision shooting. It was brought up as one of the all time great sniper movies, so I thought I'd give it a shot (haha). The nice thing about this film is there are no Hollywood movie magic 1500 yard rifle shots, which is greatly appreciated. In fact from a shooting standpoint, this film is on the mark.
Set in the closing days of World War II, the movie follows the life and times of Russian infantryman Vassili Zaitsev played by Jude Law. Sent into battle without a rifle, a chance encounter with a propaganda officer and a sensational sniper style shooting demonstration, Zaitsev is soon elevated to hero status as the entire Russian war effort is rallied around him. The Germans respond by bringing in a storied sniper (played almost believably by Ed Harris) of their own, and the rest of the movie plays out as they stalk one another.
I have to say, the opening sequences of this film are absolutely stunning cinematography. It had to have been a difficult thing to even begin to capture the absolute massive scale of destruction in World War II Stalingrad, but this film does it beautifully. Even as the cinematography is stunningly beautiful, it is in the same moment devastatingly bleak. The sheer hopelessness of the pitched battle for Stalingrad fairly oozes from the screen.
As the movie progresses, and we learn more about Jude Law's character, both from current events and flashbacks to his childhood, one begins to get a sense for him. He is no ordinary man, but borne of ordinary circumstances. He is thrust into celebrity and hero-dom, but reluctant at best. He worries about measuring up, but comes through in clutch moment after moment.
Jude Law is an exceptional actor, and movies like Cold Mountain and AI showcase his ability to play so many varied roles effortlessly well.
In the end I found much to like about this movie, and cared for the characters of the film. I had a hard time with the hopelessness that seemed to crop up at every turn. In this current world it seems there's plenty of that to go around. So if you're in a dour mood, this may just be the salve for your soul.
I give the movie a B+.