Enemy at the Gates - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Enemy at the Gates Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ March 26, 2007
Well acted but grim, violent and depressing.
Super Reviewer
½ March 21, 2013
I was unaware that this film was based loosely on real soldiers, I had an idea it was close to reality but didn't realise the main characters were real, well Law's character. The film is woven into the intense Battle of Stalingrad and is solely about the duel between one Russian sniper and one German sniper.

I think this films suffers in the same way as some other historic films in the way they add a mushy love story. I can understand why they do this but it really does drag the main premise of the plot down, especially here. The setup is perfect for a real tense nail biter, the setting is a war torn Stalingrad and the effects/location teams have really done their homework here. Creeping in n out of bombed out buildings, masses of rubble, skeletons of buildings adorn the landscapes, bodies strewn around, the whole city is a shell of a former existence, a former life.

Into this land of ruin we have Jude Law as real Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev who is pitted against German sniper (supposedly real) Major Erwin König. When you see either character on screen and lurking about it gets your heart racing, you wanna see what will happen, who will pick off who, predictably we know of course but the atmosphere is cracking. But my previous point, against this we have a droopy love tale which merely offers up sappy forced emotions to try and engage you further. Unfortunately all it does is kinda annoy you because you wanna see sniping action.

Being a film based on sniping and realism don't expect this to be chock full of explosions and mass action. What action there is is naturally slow but nicely nerve racking, well reasonably. It is a bit hokey because we all know damn well the main two won't possibly die until the end yet anyone else is fair game haha sniper fodder.

The film captures the propaganda of the time well, the way the Soviets made Zaitsev a national hero and tried to scare the Germans. Vice versa with the imposing threat of the older German marksman brought in to defeat the Soviet. All roles are played well in the visual sense, what I mean is all the cast look like they belong in this era, especially the drawn gaunt looking Harris. The only issue I had was the fact no one really tried for authentic accents bar Hoskins (looking like an angry Russian Hobbit). Law still has his cockney accent, Fiennes sounds English as does Weisz and Hoskins has a muddled cockney/Russian thing going on...but at least he tries.

I didn't really agree with one action that the director makes Harris's character (König) carry out in the film, a grim scene involving a young boy he trusts. Unsure how accurate that is suppose to be, I dare say its completely crap, they shouldn't really add things like that unless its accurate.

A well paced film that does show the realities of war to a degree if somewhat glorifying or romanticising it a touch. The Russians tend to drink and be generally rowdy when not fighting which doesn't seem too right. Not as epic as the films poster designs make out but still a decent war film focusing on a very good tale. The silent stern cold ruthlessness of Harris as the German sniper stands out for me here, but you still feel for him at the end. After all its war and every man simply does what he needs to do to survive.
Super Reviewer
½ May 6, 2007
An almost-too-thorough account of dueling snipers during the Battle of Stalingrad, Enemy at the Gates is a little on the plodding side by times, and the love story feels shoe-horned in (but if you've read my reviews before, you know that I'm particularly sick of the superfluous romantic subplot, and likely to complain about it...). This being said, I was drawn into it, and I think that it was largely the acting that did it - and thankfully, there wasn't one bad accent in the whole film, everyone just spoke in their normal English or American voices. In all, it's a capable and believable war movie with one of Ed Harris's best turns, (in a supporting role); not great, but definitely worth seeing once, especially for the military history buffs out there.
Super Reviewer
March 13, 2008
Enemy at the Gates is a brutal World War II movie about the Battle for Stalingrad, made personal by the deadly duel between a Russian (Jude Law) and German (Ed Harris) sniper. It's an occasionally thrilling battle of wits and wills that only one of them can survive.

It's not as powerful as the best World War II films, and it almost feels like a little too much superfluous stuff was added to the narrative in an attempt to make it palatable to a larger audience, but I liked the movie, overall. When it's at its best, it's pretty intense.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2006
When a young Russian soldier is held up as a heroic example to the besieged citizens of Stalingrad during WWII, the Nazis send their top marksman to kill him and quell their rising hope. There's a lot about Enemy At The Gates that I admire; the opening sequence is excellent, showing the Russian soldiers as a collection of unwilling young conscripts treated like virtual slaves, used as cannon fodder and just as likely to be shot by their own officers as the enemy. The visuals are also superb, brilliantly recreating the devastated ruins of the city and Annaud's direction makes the cat and mouse game between the two snipers extremely tense and suspenseful. A steely-eyed Ed Harris also puts in a typically excellent performance as the German sharpshooter who locks horns with our hero. Unfortunately the woeful miscasting of Jude Law in the lead role means that the young shepherd from the Urals is played like an extra from a Guy Ritchie movie and the introduction of Hollywood gloss in the form of a pointless love triangle and overly intrusive incidental music compromises everything about the film that is of merit. It's still worth watching for the good bits, but I'd avoid the scenes involving the unfortunate Miss Weisz like a little red dot on the forehead.
Super Reviewer
½ October 21, 2010
Enemy At The Gates is a very good film about two snipers who go head to head and play a game of cat and mouse. During The Battle Of Stalingrad, a young Sniper makes a name for himself by having multiple enemy kills. Judd Law gives a splendid performance as Vassilli Zaitsev, who became a hero during the war. Enemy At The Gates is not flawless but it sure is very entertaining and is one of the better war films. There are things that could have been changed. For example, the love story could have been omitted. Ed Harris delivered the best performance of the film, and I find him to be a great actor. A thing that I found great about the film was that it was set during the turning point of the war, because as we all know; the Battle Of Stalingrad was the first of many defeats of Nazi Germany. It's obvious that Hollywood took some creative liberties to make the story more appealing for the general public by including a love story, despite that fact it doesn't revolve constantly around that. Unlike other "war" films who've played out on the love aspect and downplayed on the war factor, very much like the Paul Gross travesty, Passchendaele and Michael Bay's Pearly Harbor. I guess the love side of the film is to give the characters a little more development and show a hopeful side to the end of the conflict, and unlike many films who've done that and failed, Enemy At The Gates is pretty good at limiting corny love scenes. The result is a flawed but very good film that is very entertaining to watch because the Battle Of Stalingrad was epic, and watching these two Elite snipers is very intense and thrilling. Enemy At The Gates is a fine war film, not accurate but very good. Also the fact that they don't overdo the love story is a big plus, and the film isn't another Passchendaele or Pearl Harbor. Enemy At The Gates should be seen as entertainment, and it is a well acted and solidly plotted film.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2006
Avoid this if you want a rousing and historically accurate war film. If you want to see a movie wit hlots of tense sniper exchanges and tension though, then this is a movie for you. The sets and atmosphere are wonderful, and some of the sequences are quite well done. The cast is also fairly notable.
Super Reviewer
July 29, 2010
Super Reviewer
½ March 28, 2007
"Enemy at the Gates" is about how a bunch of British soldiers try to keep the German army from taking Stalingrad in WW II. The opening scene, where the British take a train from England to the east bank of the Volga and then are transported across to Stalingrad, is well done. After that, the movie kind of falls flat. Two British snipers fall in love, but a love triangle develops between them and a British NKVD agent. Then one of the British snipers is used as propaganda to boost Soviet morale by trying to kill an American sniper that the Germans bring in. Well, I could go on, but what's the point?
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2010
I have no idea why this is one of the best war movies, but it just is. Theoretically it should have been interesting at best. The actors are not even close to their character's counterparts in terms of accents, but they nail the personalities 100%. It's just an excellent representation of honor that plays out like a pulp tale from the 40s or 50s. The visual elements of the film are beautiful, giving a glorious war-torn Stalingrad.
Super Reviewer
½ January 5, 2009
I enjoyed this one more than most, even though director Jean-Jacques Annaud took a few liberties with the truth. The essence of the actual story is here, highlighted by outstanding performances from Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes and Ed Harris.

I think it's interesting when American movies feature real-life 'foreign' heroes. Why doesn't France produce a film about Audie Murphy? Or Germany do a bio-pic on Neil Armstrong?
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2007
An overall decent war story featuring two snipers (Jude Law and Ed Harris) whose mission is to kill the other. Strong beginning is a huge plus, since it echoes aspects of "Saving Private Ryan", however the love story that is tossed in about 3/4 of the way through doesn't make one ounce of sense, its just one of those cliched Hollywood forced love stories. Law and Harris are both very good, but Fiennes is surprisingly soft and ineffective. Still watchable just because the scenes between Law and Harris are chalked with suspense, and the beginning is something else.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2008
I simply want to weigh in with a very positive response to Enemy at the Gates. Taken as a historical drama rather than an attempt to flawlessly depict a historical incident, this is topnotch entertainment. "Enemy" portrays the conflict between a young Russian sniper played by Law and the German sniper (Harris) who is sent to kill him during the German attack on Stalingrad during WWII. Apart from a scene which awkwardly caricatures the Russian field commanders and the occasionally distracting accents, the film successfully immerses the viewer in this tense war drama. Appreciate it it for its tight focus, uncompromising realism, and fine characterizations by the main actors. Research the historical accuracy later, if you must, but don't let it spoil the film.

Super Reviewer
½ March 6, 2008
Great casting, Jude Law vs. Ed Harris, excellent.
Super Reviewer
April 17, 2007
Danilov: Do you know how to shoot?
Vasilli: A little.

This is a fun movie to watch. I love sniper warfare, I've read books on it. I'm involved in it when it comes to video games (terrible comparison, I know). To have a WWII movie about the subject is very neat for me.

Jude Law stars as an expert Russian sniper, as portrayed by Joseph Fiennes character. Fiennes is a Soviet officer who makes news articles celebrating Las as a folk hero of sorts for the Russians.

Ed Harris is a German sniper who has been assigned to come to Russia and kill Law.

Vasilli: He shot him on the run. It was an impossible shot.
Danilov: Vassili...
Vasilli: You've promised people a victory I can't deliver. I don't stand a chance against this man.

Then you have a supporting cast that includes Rachel Weisz as the charming, cute, and unnecessary love interest, Bob Hoskins, who is always good, as Nikita Kruschev, and a small but sweet role for Ron Perlman as a fellow sniper.

Koulikov: Nobody gives a shit about the telephone guys.

Besides the love story stuff, which is of course necessary from a Hollywood perspective, but ultimately could be done without, this is a fairly well done movie. I'm no Joe Warbuff, so I don't really care about inaccuracies, but the movie has great fun with the Sniper vs. Sniper aspect. The opening war scenes are also very well handled.

Major König: He isn't dead, and do you know why? Because I haven't killed him yet.
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2007
okay. I like Russians a lot.
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2007
An involving war movie which gets up close behind a sniper's gunsight. Very memorable and realistic, done interestingly. There's no anti-war message to pound you on the head. It is what it is. I like for how it really gets into the experience.
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2007
Great war film gets caught up in a unnecessary love triangle. The Stalingrad scene is amazing and on par with Private Ryan's D-Day invasion.
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