Evoking a similar scene in John Boorman's wonderful World War II memoir, Hope and Glory, a stricken British bomber crashes just outside a small Dutch town. The next morning, 13-year-old Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) and a friend run over to play in the wreckage until German soldiers chase them off. So much for any resemblance to real life, as Martin Koolhoven's tepidly suspenseful coming-of-age thriller, though based on a true story, devolves into formula. By chance the impulsive Michiel gets a chance to help rescue the surviving pilot, and tired of the appeasement tactics of his father the mayor (Raymond Thiry), and inspired by the resistance bravado of his Uncle Ben (Yorick van Wageningen), he commits himself to the mission. To his credit, Koolhoven humanizes some of the enemy soldiers, but despite a monochromatic palette depicting winter bleakness, he fails to build an atmosphere of urgency or menace to undercut the sometimes corny predictability.
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