In cinematic history, French resistance fighters have been immortalized many times. However, movies about resistance movements in other European countries are still thin on the ground. Notable exceptions include Anthropoid and Defiance. This movie is a welcome addition to the resistance film genre. It focuses on the Norwegian struggle against Nazi occupation during World War II.
The invasion of Norway was swift and brutal. Despite a spirited defence, Norwegian forces could not withstand the combined land, air and sea attacks from the Nazi war machine. When the legitimate government fled the capital, a puppet regime, headed by Vidkun Quisling was installed by the Germans.
Even before Hitler’s invasion of his homeland, Max Manus was fighting tyranny. In 1939 he volunteered to fight with the Finnish army against Stalin's Soviet invasion force. The conflict gave Max his first taste of war and a chance to hone the skills he would need in the coming years.
The movie starts with Max in the thick of the action against the Soviets. Yet, it's the film's scene in Oslo that produced the most gripping and tense moments. Max's resistance group is under constant threat from the Gestapo. At one point he is captured by the Germans. Nevertheless, he executes a daring escape.
Unfortunately, many of Max's comrades did not share his luck. The death of fellow resistance fighters begins to weigh on our hero. The film could have chosen to omit the personal demons faced by Max during and after the war. However, it tackles them head-on. This movie is a fitting testament to the courage of the men and women of the Norwegian Resistance. Fans of the genre will find the story about this lesser-known theatre of war fascinating. Overall, this movie is compelling and well worth your time. Be sure to check out the resistance movie Anthropoid starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan if you've already watched Max Manus. And if it's the Norwegian element that got you hooked, check out Ragnarok!