Swedish film-maker Anders Banke has directed an unimaginative, stolidly old-fashioned second world war drama about a fictional US-British mission to nab a Polish scientist from under the noses of the Nazis. It’s soullessly performed – as if the actors have been instructed to play it in manly, soldierly fashion, straight-backed, not a quiver of feeling – and there are a couple of howlingly bogus scenes. The firefight skirmishes in frozen snowy forests, however, are nicely done.
Set in 1943, it opens with a conventional bit of sparring between British and American top brass over whose soldiers are the toughest. The Yanks want the Polish scientist and they want him yesterday, so they put their best man in charge of the mission, decorated marine corps Major Kaminski (Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick, unblinkingly stiff). Kaminski leads a specialist team of British soldiers into Poland disguised as peasants (though apparently dressed for a GQ fashion shoot in sheepskin coats and cashmere rollnecks). They have one day to rescue the scientist (Pawel Delag), and the plan is to intercept a convoy taking him to a cabin in the woods.
Naturally, things go wrong, but Kaminski, who’s half-Polish and speaks the language, hooks up with partisans from a nearby village. (The script helpfully provides a definition: “Partisans, or armed civilians, whatever you want to call them!”) The Nazis are in pursuit and the Russians are not far behind. But there’s time in the partisans’ secret hideout for the scientist to deliver a lecture on atomic weapons research, and for a spot of romance between one of the soldiers and a beautiful resistance fighter. The story has the makings of a gripping adventure, but something is lacking.
• Enemy Lines is available on digital platforms.
Source: The Guardian