Hart's War is a 2002 film about a fictional World War II prisoner of war (POW) based on the novel by John Katzenbach starring Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell and Terrence Howard. The film, directed by Gregory Hoblit, was shot at Barrandov Studios, Prague, Czech Republic and released on 15 February 2002.
After arriving, Lt. Hart is interviewed by the ranking American officer, Colonel, William McNamara (Willis). When McNamara asks if he cooperated with the Germans after he was captured, Hart denies it. McNamara knows this to be a lie because of the number of days Hart endured interrogation, which Hart reveals to be three. McNamara does not reveal this to Hart, but sends him to bunk in a barracks for enlisted men, rather than allow him to bunk with the other officers.
Two black pilots are brought to the camp. They are the only black people among the white POWs, and their situation is compounded by their status as officers. Staff Sgt. Vic W. Bedford (Hauser) is their primary antagonist — though Bedford also demonstrates defiance to the Germans by risking his life to throw bread to starving Russian POWs.
Later, a iron bar which could be used as a weapon is found in the bunk of Lt. Archer, one of the black officers. The Germans drag him out and, as he stands proud and defiant, shoot him, claiming that he was trying to escape. That same night a radio used by the Americans to receive coded messages via the BBC is found and destroyed.
Bedford himself subsequently turns up dead and the surviving black pilot, Lt. Lincoln A. Scott (Howard) is accused of killing him in revenge for Bedford framing Archer. A law student before the war, Hart is appointed by McNamara to defend the accused pilot at his court-martial, a trial to which the camp commandant, Oberst Werner Visser (Iureş) agrees.
Visser even lends Hart a manual on US court-martial proceedings, furthering conflict between him and McNamara when he uses the rule book to question the Colonel's right to conduct the trial. On the witness stand, the angered Scott gives an emotional outburst on the treatment of blacks like himself who have joined up to serve their country with honor and are treated shoddily in return.
Only much later does McNamara reveal to Hart that the "defense", like the trial itself, to be a sham, an elaborate distraction to hide a planned attack on a nearby ammunition plant (the army mistakenly believes it to be a shoe factory) by McNamara and his men, and in doing so aid the war effort. It is revealed that Bedford planted a weapon in Archer's bunk, knowing the guards would kill him for it. In return he gave them the location of the secret radio. It is also revealed he planned to escape with money and clothes, likely in return for telling the Nazis about McNamara's plan. McNamara realized this, and killed Bedford to prevent it.
Hart is shocked that McNamara as a senior officer would sacrifice fellow Americans to perpetuate this. McNamara reminds Hart that they are at war, and in war sometimes one man must be sacrificed to save the lives of many. Hart acknowledges this, but retorts that it is McNamara's duty to ensure that he, not Lincoln Scott, is the sacrifice. Disgusted, McNamara says that Hart does not know anything about duty, in reference to how Hart gave into a "Level 1" interrogator after 3 days, whereas McNamara was tortured for a month.
On the last day of the trial, McNamara and others feign food poisoning in order to be excused from the closing arguments. They then slip down an escape tunnel whose entrance is in a room behind the theatre where the trial is taking place. As he is about to go down, McNamara overhears Hart's closing speech. In order to save Lt. Scott, Hart announces that he killed Bedford.
Visser orders everyone out and announces that Hart will be shot there and then, but, just before the sentence is carried out, McNamara, moved by this selfless sacrifice, voluntarily returns to the camp to accept responsibility. At that moment the factory blows up and the other escapees scatter away.
Visser holds McNamara accountable and personally executes him on the spot, but spares the remaining prisoners. Scott leads the salute to McNamara. Three months later, the German army surrenders to the Allies. The prison camp is liberated and all of the surviving prisoners, including Hart, are sent home. Hart's final comments are that he learned about honor, duty and sacrifice.