Based on the real life of Pinchas Rosenbaum, who helped save thousands of Hungarian Jews during the final months of the Second World War, "Walking With the Enemy" is a reminder that the Nazis always seemed to have eager boots on the ground: The Arrow Cross, for instance, a fascist paramilitary group based in Budapest that was more than happy to carry out the intentions of the Third Reich during the last months of the war, and against people who had been their neighbors. It's the nasty side of history, to say nothing of human nature.
"Enemy" director Mark Schmidt counterbalances all this unpleasantness with a melodrama that can only be called old-fashioned. His heroes are dauntless, the women beautiful, the bad guys really bad, the Hungarian bad guys even worse. His Rosenbaum-based hero, Ekel Cohen (Jonas Armstrong, soon to be seen in "Edge of Tomorrow"), is fluent in German and happens to look like an Aryan, so he's able to disguise himself as a German, boss around loathsome members of the Arrow Cross and save a lot of his fellow Jews.
There's a whole lotta nobility going on in "Walking With the Enemy," which is yet another effort to put a positive spin on the Holocaust, through a story that, while fact-based, is anomalous enough to seem desperate. The film is so emotionally obvious and awkwardly handled that it doesn't deserve much consideration as a political or historical statement; Ben Kingsley as Miklos Horthy, the Hungarian leader who tried to navigate his country through the twin treachery of German and Russia, has several revelatory moments. Otherwise, the cast is adrift. The film's intentions, of course, are to honor Rosenbaum, and there's no question that those intentions are commendable. There's also no question he deserved better than this.
PLOT The Nazis put the boots to Hungary, and a Jewish hero rises up.
CAST Jonas Armstrong, Ben Kingsley, Hannah Tointon
BOTTOM LINE Putting a positive spin on the Holocaust.