|Die Frankfurt-Tipp Bewertung:|
|Laufzeit:||Ca. 134 min.|
|FSK:||From 16 years|
Europe, 1945: World War II enters its decisive phase. The allied troops advance to one last major advance against Hitler's troops. In this bloody turmoil, the war-torn Army Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) and his men in their Sherman tank are sent on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. But the mood within the crew, which has just returned from a bloody mission, is extremely tense. The fact that they are now to be accompanied by the young recruit Norman (Logan Lerman), who takes the place of their fallen chambermaid, does not exactly contribute to the increase in morale. When Norman's inexperience leads the mission into a deadly ambush, the situation threatens to escalate once and for all…
With "Heart of Steel" director David Ayer returns after the commercial failure of the action hit "Sabotage" to the style of dark realism that made his earlier works like "End of Watch" or "Street Kings" so worth seeing. In the case of this war film this has very strong advantages, but also some disturbing disadvantages. The biggest advantage is undoubtedly that the unembellished staging of the scenes, which take place inside the tank, creates a depressing feeling of claustrophobia, which draws the viewer into the action with extreme intensity. Especially in the last act this creates high tension and some very intense moments, through which "Heart of Steel" reveals a clear potential to become a classic of modern war film.
However, in the end it doesn't happen. Because Ayers style brings a big problem with the drawing of his characters. It is highly credited to him that he does not present overstyled heroes here, but rather blunted, broken types due to the war. A certain authenticity cannot be denied to these figures. However, Ayer does not succeed in giving his anti-heroes some positive sides. Especially in contrast to the naïve Norman, who quickly becomes the identification figure for the audience, the other crew members of the tank seem extremely unsympathetic. This impression is intensified in a scene in which Norman befriends a young German woman. The behaviour of Gordo (Michael Peña), Bible (Shia LaBeouf) and especially Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal) is simply repulsive in this scene, so that the viewer loses every last spark of sympathy for the men. But this also dwindles the interest in their fate, which threatens to drift the 134-minute story, which is already too long in any case, into insignificance.
The actors are not to be blamed for this. Even though Shia LaBeouf's rage-filled facial expression sometimes seems to be too much of an effort, all actors deliver good to very good performances. Especially Logan Lerman and Brad Pitt are beyond any doubt. But what is the point of the best acting performances, if as a spectator you don't care about the characters at some point? The fact that the film in the end only celebrates the usual Hurra patriotism under its brutally realistic cloak does not necessarily raise the overall impression of the film. No question, "Heart of Steel" has some very strong moments, which beat with full force into the stomachs of the audience. In such moments comparisons to "The Boat" or "The Soldier James Ryan" are quite appropriate. However, the extremely unsympathetic characters and the story that is always on the brink of insignificance make sure that at the end it's only enough for "just worth seeing, with some cutbacks".
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