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The movie begins as we see Lt. Hart (Colin Farrell) being captured by the Germans in 1944. Lt. Hart is a Senator's son, spending 2 years at Yale before coming to Europe and has never seen actual combat. He is interrogated for 3 days and we later find out that under much stress, gave up some important information to stop his torture.
He is sent to a POW camp in Belgium whose senior POW officer is Col McNamara (Bruce Willis). Willis cross examines him and learns (without revealing to Hart) that he knows Hart is lying about not giving up information. You see, Willis went through the same interrogation and knows that it could take up to a month for them to get information. Since it took Lt. Hart only 3 days, he knows he gave it up. Hart is haunted by the fact that he so easily gave up the information.
Not trusting him and blaming it on space, he assigns Hart to an enlisted men's barracks. A few days later, 2 Tuskegee Airmen are shot down and assigned to the same barracks.
Racism is still very strong in the barracks and the 2 black officers are treated with absolutely no respect.
In fact, Sgt. Bedford plants a stake under one of the pilot's (Lt. Archer) mattress and it is discovered by the guards. Lt. Archer is executed. The other pilot, Lt. Scott is outraged by this set up.
Later, the Commandant goes to Willis' barracks and destroys the make shift radio he had made.
A few nights later, Sgt. Bedford is found dead outside the barracks with Lt. Scott standing over him. Lt. Hart knows he is innocent and demands a trial.
Willis doesn't want one but the Commandant of the camp (a Yale man) thinks it will be fun and a trial begins.
Willis names Hart the attorney for Lt. Scott and asks Hart to give him all the information he can about Lt. Scott's story. Hart refuses and it is apparent to him that Willis will do anything he can to convict Lt. Scott. Willis explains to Hart that the secret escape route from each of the barracks (through the latrine) will be jeopardized if Lt. Scott tells his story. He tells Hart that Lt. Scott should say he left the barracks through a hole under the stove.
The Commandant who has a big rivalry with Willis gives Lt. Hart a book on the rules of court-martials. Lt. Hart uses the book and embarrasses Willis in court.
Willis takes Hart outside and demands he never speak to the Commandant again. He doesn't realize what he is doing.
Later in the testimony it looks like Hart has finally swung the evidence in his favor because of face black that was found on Sgt. Bedford's hands. Why would Lt. Scott need to black his face. The prosecution explains that this was because as he testified, Lt. Scott followed Bedford through the hole under the stove and this was just soot.
Lt. Hart checks out Bedford's bunk and finds he had money and paperwork hidden. In court he accuses the Commandant of trading secrets with Bedford for the chance to escape. Secrets such as the radio in Willis' barracks.
Later one night, Lt. Hart sees one of the men from his barracks leaving and follows him to another building where he discovers a tunnel that the men have been working on. He finds out that they had been building this tunnel so 35 of them could escape, blow up the nearby weapons plant and escape through Europe with their phony paperwork and money.
He has finally put it all together. He confronts Willis and accuses him of murdering Bedford because he couldn't be trusted with the secret of the tunnel.
On the last day of the trial, Willis pretends to be sick and leaves the trial early. As the trial continues the 35 men including Willis all secretly escape down the tunnel (which just happens to be in the same building as the trial). Willis had planned for the closing to take a long time which would give his men plenty of time to escape.
To save Lt. Scott, and to finally have some honor, Hart confesses to the court that he murdered Bedford. The Commandant is upset and orders everyone outside for a lineup. He is going to execute Lt. Hart in front of everyone. He had earlier heard a noise in the back room and as he's leaving the room he checks it out and discovers the tunnel. He realizes that this entire court room trial was just a cover to extend the time the men had the building to finish their tunnel.
He orders everyone who had anything to do with the trial to stand out front for a mass execution.
Suddenly, the gates to the camp open and in walks Bruce Willis wearing a German uniform. He begins taking off the uniform, revealing his American uniform underneath. In the background we see the weapons factory exploding.
To spare all his men, Willis takes the blame for everything that had happened. The Commandant obliges and fires a bullet into Willis' head.
Just before the credits we learn that 3 months later the war ended.
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