Good movie review: Not unlike Defiance, another Nazi-themed movie that opens this week, Good lacks character development and dimension. This is a key problem, because like other World War II films out this season, it tries to paint a humane portrait of a German who carries out Nazi orders. If we don't have a strong sense of who he is, how can we even begin to think of him as a complex figure?
Where Defiance is based on a true story, Good is based on CP Taylor's play. It is hampered by a stagy quality that further prevents viewers from identifying with the central character.Viggo Mortensen plays John Halder, a professor recruited by the Nazi party because of a novel he wrote involving euthanasia. Oddly, he doesn't seem to see the irony that as books are burned on his college campus, he is approached by a Nazi operative to join them in spirit because of a book he has written.
As he puts it to Maurice, a Jewish psychoanalyst friend (Jason Isaacs), They like to have a few academics around to give them the veneer of sophistication. It's hard to believe a man of letters could be so naïve.
Halder is supposedly a good man, but he seems compromised early on. He abandons his wife and children to live with an attractive student (Jodie Whittaker) and resists the entreaties of Maurice to escape Germany. Mortensen has an appealing subtlety and gravitas in the role, but it's hard for him to be convincing with the part's limitations.
Though the film opens with an intriguing burnished look, it bogs down about halfway through with talkiness and uneven pacing. When reality finally dawns on Halder, it is not only too late for him to redeem himself, but too late for the audience to care. Source: USA Today
- Official movie site: Good