Review in a Hurry: A Holocaust movie with a twist: This time, the Jews get to win! When James Bond is your leader, stuff like that can happen.
The Bigger Picture: You know how the U.S. kinda got a cinematic do-over on the Vietnam War in Rambo: First Blood Part II? This plays out a bit like that, culminating in a battle where Jews kick Nazi ass. It's based on a true story, but there wasn't quite as much ass-kicking in real life. That part's just there to make the movie more awesome.
When the Nazis start rounding up Polish Jews and killing all who try to hide them, the Bielski brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell, all with fake accents) round up as many of their people as they can and hide out in the woods. It's an effective survival strategy for a while, but as winter rolls in, stress fractures occur through the community, culminating in a split between Tuvia (Craig) and Zus (Schreiber), with the latter anxious to join the Russians in the war, while the former prefers to stick to the original plan, even as his coughing tells you in Hollywood shorthand that he's probably got a terminal disease.
Director Edward Zwick has his formula, and this is no different. Like Glory, The Last Samurai, et al., Defiance is nicely shot, has some great battle scenes, beats you over the head with unsubtle emotional manipulation and in the grand scheme of things is just too damn long. That doesn't make it bad, necessarily, but chances are you will check your watch at least once.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Considering their heroics, the Bielski brothers really do deserve to be better-known than they are, so it would be churlish not to at least respect Zwick for bringing their story to light.