Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net, linked from Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Matthew Hill, Landon Johnson
Screenwriter: Matthew Hill, Landon Johnson
Cast: Cary Elwes, Jason Patric, Judd Hirsch, Sebastian Roché, Greer Grammar, Gilles Marini
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 11/4/22
Opens: November 11, 2022
The race is on. Which will end first: the pandemic, or movies about World War 2? We hope the former will go kaput first, and let’s get more war movies, since a survey showed that when Americans were asked to define “Auschwitz,” only one-third had any idea.
With “Resistance: 1942,” writer-directors Matthew Hill and Landon Johnson may have signaled a World War 1 trope when their movie will open here in the U.S. on Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, when Marchal Foch took the German surrender in a railway car on 11/11/11. Now in this latest war pic, we see France under the Nazis, and of course people under any occupation will mount guerrilla warfare against the intruders. In this case, the resistors are not fighting physically against the Nazis with some exceptions. Instead under the leadership of Jacques (Cary Elwes), a group of rebels use the radio to give hope to the French, ending underground broadcasts with “stay safe, my friends.” This does not go down easily for the Gestapo (how many Americans know what that word means?), resisting the resistors by trying to triangulate, to find the culprits, and wipe them out just as they (according to one high-level Nazi at a dinner party) determine to rid Europe of Jews, cripples, communists and gypsies.
With team Germany under officer Klaus Jager (Sebastian Roché) and team France led by Jacques, the wheels are set in motion. Jacques is taking cover with his daughter Juliet (Greer Grammar), and a Jewish couple represented by Bertrand (Judd Hirsch—whose most famous line in “Independence Day” was “Nobody’s perfect”).
There’s lots of action and lots of planning, shifting several times from one to the other. Opening in Lyon, the patriots take off to the South of France to continue their hiding and broadcasts. They had been befriended by Andre (Jason Patric), a Swiss fellow with a bespoke office in Lyon and a mansion in the Cote d’Azure, who offers the group sustenance and a place to hide out. It turns out that he had been involved in a shady deal allowing him that luxury, a deal that could have prevented him from being given Righteous Among the Nations placement in Yad Vashem.
The film is marred by some amateurish acting (note particularly the almost permanent look of fear on Greer Grammer’s face) and a script that is so sentimental that it could be used by the folks who do movies that serve as commercials for Hallmark cards. It doesn’t help that everybody speaks English; French, Germans and Swiss alike—except for a moment of Hebrew prayer by Bertrand.
110 minutes. © 2022 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Technical – B
Overall – C+