Jude Law and Ed Harris have each other in their sights in this gripping war movie.
It’s late 1942 and the German and Soviet armies are locked into the decisive Battle of Stalingrad. Their grim, stalemated struggle creates casualties by the thousands, but it’s also the arena for an intensely personal battle of wits between just two men.
Law is a young Russian sniper who, via government men Joseph Fiennes and Bob Hoskins (as politician Nikita Khrushchev), is built up into an inspirational hero, while Harris plays the expert Nazi marksman who has orders to kill him.
Inspired by a true story, the film sometimes seems unduly contrived (not least a daring child spy and Rachel Weisz as Law’s frontline love interest), but the ensuing drama is amazingly suspenseful. Its re-creation of the nightmarish ruins and rubble landscape of the city is faultless and, above all, Harris’ cold-eyed villain is mesmerising.