It's 1942 and Nazi forces are advancing through Russian territory in an attempt to reach the oil fields of Asia, the last city standing in their way is Stalingrad.
Bob Hoskins plays the Russian Leader (Kruschev), forcing troups into the city (assuming they survive the Stuker strafed boat crossing) in massive numbers to fight against insurmountable odds.
Jude Law plays the hero Vassili Zaitsev who is among the doomed soldiers paired up for the assault. One is given a rifle, the other a clip of bullets.
They're then forced to attack the German machine guns, picking up the rifle of their partner if they're killed first.
During the assault Vassili is split up from his main group when they flee the German machine guns. He soon meets Danilov, a Russian Political Officer played by Joseph Fiennes who is hiding from a group of German soldiers. Vassili demonstrates his expert sniper skills (taught to him as a boy by his Grandfather) and kills all five of the soldiers.
Suitably impressed, Danilov suggests to Kruschev that Vassili's exploits could be used to raise the troops spirits and hopefully turn the tide of the battle through resurrecting the army newspaper.
This part of the film isn't totally convincing. It's portrayed as a decision by Krushev based on Vassili's patriotism, rather than just something new to try as I suspect it was.
Vassili then scouts the terrain of Stalingrad with a group of specially trained snipers, demoralising the German troops. At the same time, Danilov prints news of his exploits.
The German commanders realise the effect Vassili is having on the troops and send for their top sniper trainer Major Konig (played by Ed Harris) to hunt down and kill Vassili.
And so starts a captivating cat and mouse game where each one of the highly skilled snipers try to outwit and kill the other.
Rachel Weisz plays the love interest which adds tension between Vassili and Danilov, which causes an inevitable betrayal.
It's a truely amazing film, and highly recommended. The scenery and sound is outstanding and the performances by the majority of the cast exceptional. I say majority as I feel Hoskins portrayal of Kruschev was flat, and that he was a poor choice for the character.
The choice that the cast spoke normally and not try to mimic accents was a little strange to start with, but didn't detract from the film. Too many actors have been criticised for the poor renditions of accents in the past, and it would have been a shame to spoil such a stunning film with this flaw.