* * * B
This war film, based on real events, dramatizes the Russian defense of Stalingrad in world war two. Vassili (Jude Law), a young sniper, is made a hero by the Soviets after he saves a propaganda officer, Commisar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), by shooting a half dozen German soldiers. His fame leads the Germans to send a sniper of their own, Major König (Ed “Bud” Harris) to assassinate Vassili. The two play a drawn out cat and mouse game, each trying to kill the other.
There is an excellent love triangle involving Vassili, Danilov, and Tania (Rachel “Evelyn” Weisz). After her parents are murdered, Tania joins Vassili on the battlefield. The main characters are all well played, and there are several good minor characters including Nikita Krushchev (Bob Hoskins) and Koulikov (Ron “Hellboy” Perlman), a sniper trained by König. The film also makes a great critique of Communism: no matter how much the system tries to make everyone equal, there will always be those that have greater gifts and win more love.