By all accounts, Labyrinth of Lies should be an interesting watch. It’s a German movie that deals with a touchy subject matter for Germans: the Holocaust. It focuses not only on the Holocaust but also Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp that witnessed the worst of Nazi mass murder. North American audiences, who often equate European and subtitled movies as art-film fare, may dismiss this movie as a challenge to watch. But make no mistake: in style and execution, it tackles a difficult subject with the flare of a watered-down Hollywood movie.

The movie is a fictionalized account of the mid-1960s Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, in which 22 low- and mid-level SS (and other) officers were tried under German law for their roles in concentration camp murders. It follows the story of Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling), a young idealistic lawyer working as a traffic court prosecutor. When a reporter (Andre Szymanski) creates a disturbance at the court house with his allegation that a former SS guard—an alleged murderer—is employed as a local school teacher, Johann is mystified that his older colleagues, who were old enough to have been actively involved in the war effort, become agitated and berate the journalist.

He befriends the reporter and secretly begins his own investigation. After he submits a report that’s initially brushed off by his superiors (the standard response is “Thank you, I’ll hand this in”), Radmann is given permission by the state attorney general (Gert Voss), a concentration camp survivor, to continue the investigation. During his investigation, Radmann gathers enough evidence to prosecute Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz doctor who committed unspeakable horrors against kids. He’s obsessed with him, but due to resistance by the police, he is unable to arrest him. Instead, he is forced to focus on lower-level officials.

The movie isn’t without its moments. In one moving and beautifully shot scene, Radmann’s friend Simon (Johannes Krisch) weeps as he recalls the fate of his twin daughters at the hands of Mengele. Simon is shot in a close-up as he sits in front of an orange-tinged wall; thankfully there are only a few cuts to Radmann as he listens. And there are two montage sequences—notably the interrogation montage—that are well executed. Unfortunately, the movie is watered down by Hollywood-style schtick. Radmann is given a romantic side story that is both uninteresting and distracting. And his friendship with the journalist is unconvincing and predictable (the journalist is the hard-boiled buddy who wails a gun and serves to play as Radmann’s opposite). There is also the predictable plot line in the second act in which Radmann, convinced that every German is a Nazi, starts drinking and wallowing in self pity.

Labyrinth of Lies is interesting to watch if only to see how Germans deal with an ugly side of their history. But as a movie, it adds little that earlier movies, particularly The Reader, haven’t added before.