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"Walking with the Enemy": Do the Reich Thing 

Wednesday, Apr 23 2014

Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be a single true-ish story of heroism defying Naziism left untold by the movies, along comes Walking with the Enemy to remind you that at least you were right about there probably being too many as it is. In occupied Budapest, a Jew (Jonas Armstrong) impersonates an SS officer to find out what happened to his missing family, and, when he does find out, to do something about it. His brave and risky scheme involves secretly issuing Swiss passports to Hungarian Jews, and otherwise diverting them from deportation. Meanwhile, the Hungarian regent (Ben Kingsley) repels Axis advances for as long as he can. It does Walking With the Enemy no favors to compare it with that other movie involving Nazis and Ben Kingsley and lifesaving paperwork. This one is inspirational, in a greeting-card way — a turgid expression of condolences, complete with an annotated bright side to look on. It has 11 writing credits, two of which are for its producer. Despite the perverse thrill of a moment when our man gazes upon his stashed-away Nazi uniform with the determination of a superhero suiting up, nuance could have been deployed a bit more throughout. Although it eventually gathers some power by relying on the automatic tension of unfolding atrocity, too much of the film transpires with the stiffness of those dramatic re-enactments found in forgettable documentaries. Presumably for ease of audience access, everyone speaks English with mildly cartoony accents. "Tell da Sviss we vill not interfere wit dem, as long as day do not interfere vit us," says Holocaust logistics guy Adolf Eichmann (Charles Hubbell), living up, at least, to his reputation for banality.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


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