Henry (James D'Arcy, Marvel's Agent Carter), is a burned out, hard-drinking American journalist "covering" the Spanish Civil War, if by covering you mean getting drunk and spending all day at the movies. His much more ambitious photojournalist colleague, Marta (Ingrid Garcia Jonsson) drags him out to the front lines so she can get an award-winning photo, which she does, but the pair almost pay for it with their lives. The stickler is that all foreign press must be called in to their respective newspaper via phone and the local press office controls everything that goes out. If it in any way makes Spain look weak, the call is dropped. Needless to say, it will be hard to get the photo out.
A Soviet named Vasyl (Jack Davenport) runs the press office, with lovely Teresa (Maria Valverde), his former girlfriend, working as a censor. The real muscle behind the office is The Consul (Burn Gorman, And Then There Were None), who will stop at nothing to roust out anyone who could be a threat to the Franco-run Spanish Republic to further his career and has no problem threatening weak Vasyl with the lives of his family back home.
When Teresa and Henry start to take a liking to one another, Teresa veers from a sanctioned press tour with Henry, Marta and a few other press members to give them a glimpse at the reality of the Spanish Civil War, which does not go over well with Vasyl, who senses that the pair have begun to like one another. After a series of unfortunate events, the key players all find themselves in the little village of Guernica. Sadly, this is the town chosen by the Nazis to test out their use of thermite and their soon-to-be-infamous Blitzkrieg attack. When the town is obliterated, Henry does whatever it takes to get the story out to the world, sparking WWII not long after, and even inspiring Pablo Picasso to paint his famous work of art depicting the tragedy.
Guernica is a good war movie and the character of Henry was loosely based on British journalist George Steer, although they took a good bit of creative license with the story. I found the acting between D'Arcy, Valverde and Davenport to be a little on the stiff side, and the romance between Henry and Teresa seems a bit quick to be plausible, but I suppose things had to be sped up to cover everything in the story. That said, Burn Gorman is as terrifying as he always is and is impeccable in his role. There are some deleted and extended scenes, which are okay, but I really wish there had been a featurette about the actual story behind the movie. As a fan of WWII history in general, I always like a little extra knowledge and the story of Guernica was new to me, although I had to do some additional research on my own. It just seems a missed opportunity for a history lesson, especially with the inclusion of Picasso's piece at the very end, but no explanation.
Overall, if you enjoy movies about WWII, you'll probably enjoy Guernica. It just wasn't great.