Critic Reviews



Based on 17 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
It’s a powerful, profoundly uncomfortable watch.
The Captain, Robert Schwentke’s harrowing World War II psychodrama, isn’t what you would call enjoyable, exactly. More accurately, it compels our attention with a remorseless, gripping single-mindedness, presenting Naziism as a communicable disease that smothers conscience, paralyzes resistance and extinguishes all shreds of humanity.
The film is consistently beautiful to look at in an “industrial metal album cover” kind of way, pairing dimly lit, black-and-white cinematography and artfully composed mise-en-scéne.
Village Voice
Filmed in black and white in the wintry countryside of Görlitz, Germany, Schwentke’s vision of a man who would be posthumously named the Executioner of Emsland is chilling and yet, at times, almost farcical.
The film-craft is high quality, with the passion and care taken evident. Schwentke brings the brutal winter during wartime to realistic life. If you have historical interest in deep details of the war, or are fascinated by psychopathic war criminals, this might be a film for you.
Few and far between are the movies...that actually implicate modern viewers in the evil, which is precisely what makes The Captain such a remarkable film. Not a great one, mind you — the movie starts out with a bang but swiftly falls into a kind of prolonged and distressingly outlandish tedium, and lodges there for the better part of its rather taxing running time — but a brave and uncompromising indictment of human nature, Teutonic or otherwise.
The central premise is arresting, as is the style, but there's a lot more that could have been done with it than just show how one ill-defined individual instantly opts to join his country's lowest form of life.
It’s too bleak to laugh at and too absurd to cry over. That it’s true adds another insanity-inducing element.
Slant Magazine
In one fashion, Robert Schwentke proves to be too complicit with his protagonist, regarding evil and human banality as stimulation.
Outlandish as its action often is, The Captain is based on a true story. Schwentke’s film, though, has an allegorical/satirical axe to grind, and it more often than not frames the narrative in dark archetypal terms.

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