Overwrought and eccentric, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s movie still has fine moments. Red Army sniper Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) and political commissar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) — old friends — vie for Tanya (Rachel Weisz) during the Battle of Stalingrad. Annaud gets credit for paying sweeping homage to the Stalingrad chaos, but the actual horror of the battle (frozen corpses as river bridges) is beyond film fiction’s reach.
Sniper Zaitsez (based on a legendary Soviet marksman) wreaks havoc on German troops until pitted cat-and-mouse style against Wehrmacht adversary Major König (Ed Harris, burdened with a distracting accent). Bob Hoskins is OTT as Nikita Khrushchev. Law and Weisz stage a scene of soundless lovemaking that’s as gripping as it gets.