Thousands of green military cadets march into the firing line as the Red Army resists Nazi invasion in Vadim Shmelyov’s cliche-ridden historical epic

Here’s a tale of chest-puffing courage and one-dimensional heroism from Russia during the second world war: an old-fashioned patriotic epic with slo-mo action scenes, intestines spewed on the battlefield and a soppy sentimental romance. It is based on real events in 1941, when more than 3,000 young military cadets were sent to the frontline to defend Moscow. Their mission was to buy time, holding off the Germans for five or six days until reinforcements arrived. Only a third survived.

The cadets are still three months from graduating military school when the order comes to mobilise. These lads are future Red Army commanders, the brightest and the best. Two of them, best friends Lavrov (Artyom Gubin) and Shemyakin (Igor Yudin), are in love with the same girl, trainee doctor Masha…

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