The redemption of Harry Feversham gets filmed for the half-dozenth time in Shekhar Kapur's lush but ultimately underwhelming The Four Feathers. A.E.W. Mason's story has some pretty non-traditional character dynamics to get used to -- its protagonist is defined by an act of cowardice, and must spend the rest of the narrative haphazardly rehabilitating his good name. Having resigned from the British army on the eve of deployment, Heath Ledger's Harry then guiltily embarks on a "mission" to the Sudan that's as reckless as his prior choice was cautious. But we're certainly justified in asking, as Harry stumbles through African prison camps in belatedly attempting to participate, whether blatant disregard for one's safety is the same as courage, or rather more like self-flagellation. The Four Feathers is particularly cruel to Harry's friend and romantic rival Jack Durrance, who does follow the codes of military conduct by which men's characters are judged, and pays the price by being blinded in action. Kapur casts Wes Bentley in order to add a sneering quality to the otherwise honorable Jack, as though subtly turning the audience against him will obscure the disservice done to his character. Kapur's palette is big, and in Ledger, he's found an actor willing to go big, to inhabit the headspace of Harry at his most defeated and desperate. But there's something wanting about this production, something that prevents it from leaving an impression despite its first-rate materials. Perhaps it's Kate Hudson as Ethne Eustace, the center of their love triangle, who serves as the best metaphor for the film's failings. Even though her character inspires ends-of-the-earth devotion from both Jack and Harry, Hudson barely registers, appearing in only a few scenes, and seeming too featherweight -- so to speak -- for a story that stabs at the soul of the British Empire.