There's no romance or grandiosity about Russian war films. Instead, what you get is matter of fact honesty, stripped bare of pretension.
Panfilov's 28 men is no exception. There's a sense of the horror Soviet troops faced during WWII. Under equipped for most of the war, lacking support and in many instances inexperienced they had to use cunning, courage and self sacrifice to confronted a well organised, technologically superior foe.
This film in its own way is very touching. You get to know and empathise with the plight of the soldiers, simply to see most of them die. Death is presented in a "matter of fact" fashion. Its arbitrary, its accepted. There are no individual hero's, everyone does their part.
Its this democracy of treatment that underlines the collective courage of the combat soldiers that enhance's the emotional impact of the film. You get a sense of the sheer scale of loss of life and the fact that all life in its simple, honest way, matters.
In terms of acting, directing, cinematography, action scenes and sets this film is top notch. There' s a real sense of realism about Panfilov's 28 Men. So much so that the experience is utterly engrossing, troubling and deeply saddening.
All in all quite exceptional.10/10 from me.