Directed and co-scripted by Jean-Jacques Annaud, Enemy at the Gates (2001) contains the spot-on visuals that a movie about the Battle of Stalingrad ought to have. All the same, the film has been accused of desecrating the memory of those who fought and died in Stalingrad during the Forties. I agree with this, except that the history of this battle will be known (in Russia and elsewhere) long after Annaud’s movie is justly forgotten.

Enemy is well-made but unsophisticated. That’s the problem. Even an entertainment film needs more than two Russian men in the midst of war getting jubilant because, owing to the sharpshooting skill of one of them, both men will be “famous.” It needs more than a Russian mother seeming to readily accept that her very young son, Sacha, has forsaken the Soviet Union and gone to the other side. Too, there is a deplorable love story. Jude Law‘s Vassili and Rachel Weisz‘s Tania engage in odd, laughable sex, and it’s a real pity they don’t—can’t—use protection.

I like much of the cast, though, notwithstanding Bob Hoskins rants embarrassingly as military officer Nikita Khrushchev. I don’t know; maybe the Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov could have done something with Khrushchev. But Enemy at the Gates is not Bodrov, who directed Prisoner of the Mountains and Mongol. Those are the pictures to see.