We Were Soldiers Poster
(Colonel Hal Moore)
(Sergeant Major Basil
(Major Bruce "Snakeshit"
Once Hollywood produces a successful and critically acclaimed war
movie, it has a tendency to follow up with several 'less than
adequate' war films which eventually give the originator a bad wrap.
That has almost always been the case. The originator in this
case was "Black
Hawk Down", an exquisite war masterpiece. However, the
trend is changing slightly. "We Were Soldiers",
written for the screen and directed by Randall Wallace, is better than
Hawk Down" because it does something very few other war
movies do--show things as they probably happened. Most war
movies glamorize war and fill in the blanks with unbelievable side
stories of courage and valor. Sure, they make us feel warm and
cozy inside, but those feelings are empty. "We Were
Soldiers" avoids exaggeration and delivers a wallop.
Mel Gibson stars as Colonel Hal Moore, a courageous and honorable
soldier who tells his men, "I will be the first one to step onto
the field and the last one to step off", a line which he lives up
to admirably. Gibson leads a crew of soldiers into an unwinnable
battle in Vietnam. He is placed in a situation where his men are
dying and his entire cavalry is surrounded, being closed in on by
hundreds of determined Vietnamese soldiers. "We Were
Soldiers" is the story of the 7th Cavalry (the same number cavalry
as Custer's, by the way) and the war they fought on the ridges, the
knolls, and deep in the creek beds of Vietnam. The violence is
so real and unflinching that one scene, in which an American soldier
is wounded by a napalm explosion and must be carried to a helicopter,
made me cringe and come close to losing it. All aspects of the
Vietnam scenes are superbly done, and Gibson is powerful and intense
as Colonel Moore. Sam Elliot costars as Sergeant Major Basil Plumley,
Gibson's right hand man, who doesn't believe in using the newer
weapons and insists on using his pistol instead throughout the length
of the film. Chris Klein plays Lieutenant Jack Geoghegan, a
young soldier who quickly strikes up a friendship with Gibson.
Madeline Stowe portrays Gibson's wife Julie who takes it upon herself
to deliver 'letters of notification' to the wives of the fallen
soldiers. And, Barry Pepper stars as Joe Galloway, a reporter
who hitches a ride with a helicopter to get an up close perspective on
the battle--he would eventually go on to write the book that this film
was based upon, "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young".
Director Randall Wallace has given us a war film of immense power and
unbelievable intensity. It contains scenes that will linger in
my mind long after the film hits video shelves and settles into
hibernation. Not since "Saving Private Ryan" have I
been so moved by a film, and not since "Braveheart" have I
seen Gibson so committed to a role. When the Academy Awards roll
around next year, I would personally like to see Wallace up for
Director, Gibson up for Actor, Pepper up for Supporting Actor, and
"We Were Soldiers" up for Best Picture of the year. It
is rare when I cannot think of one negative thing to say about a film,
and that is the case with his film. This is magnificent cinema
and the best film of the year thus far. It will take one hell of
a masterpiece to outrank this flick.
Ray ( 4 out of 4 pops )
about this film with other Popkorn Junkies
James ( 3 1/2 out of 4 pops )
Okay I got talked into this and I just got back from it. I
say "talked" and not "conned" because it is a mighty fine film. Oscar
caliber, It's a bit early to say that, but I would not be surprised. However, the first half and hour or so is overly
clichéd and overblown, but after that it's top notch material. 3.5 pops.
Sam Elliot, Greg Kinnear, and Barry Pepper are great! Chris Klien
and Kerri Russel are cute...duh...I think that's why they cast them. And Mel Gibson...um...well...um...once again has at least 5
kids. Starting to be a staple in his war movies......great acting too. Now time for my opinion, so some of you might wanna leave the room.
Go on, get. I said get. Okay, those of you who wanna hear this, thanks. What is the deal with ground combat? In my mind, Vietnam would have
been a successful war--although no war is truly successful--if we didn't send our
American boys to fight the Vietcong on the ground. We should have just napalmed North Vietnam. Done. Capoote. End of
war. I know it's easy and some might say a cop-out to look back and say
how things are different instead of making changes now, but I don't
see why ground combat is all that important. I think the American military is learning this fact, as the most recent war has begun
with lots of air-to-ground attacks to "soften up" the enemy, and then ground troops can go in to secure the area, but then why do I
still hear people talk about how they want to fight on the ground and die for their country? Excuse me, but if I was at war, the LAST
thing I would be thinking about is dying. The point of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastards die for his.
Back to the film. Yeah, after the first 30 minutes, it's great. The
violence is pornographic, so young kids and the squeamish should not
see this film, despite it's war-is-hell overtones, however for the
rest of us, it's just the cherry on top of a mighty fine piece of work.
Pappy ( 3 out of 4
I was a bit bored at the beginning of this film,
but it was an effective real life lead into all the Viet Nam action.
One day you are comfortable with friends and family in the US;
the next day you are in a battle for your life.
And once that action in the film started it was total confusion.
But that’s not a bad thing, it seemed to very realistically
portray the fog of war. The
film has a lot of action, a lot of emotion and is sympathetic to all
warriors placed on the Viet Nam battlefield.
This was a war I never in, but many of my friends were.
Some never came back. I
must admit that I walked out of the film with a tear running down my
Matt ( 2 out of 4
There are some genuinely touching moments in Randall Wallace's war epic,
and I did leave the theater crying, but I still felt it could've been
more poignant and powerful. I can't point it out, but it was
missing something. Mel Gibson's performance is brilliant--in fact,
it's so brilliant that I sometimes forgot I was watching Mel on screen.
I could tell he did extensive research on the role. Madeline Stowe
gives a quietly powerful performance as his wife. And Barry Pepper
is superb as the reporter-turned-war-hero. He is a new,
up-and-coming actor, and I hope he turns into a big success. The
only one who I felt was miscast was Greg Kinnear--I just couldn't buy
him as a soldier. Like all war films, "We Were Soldiers"
is graphic and bloody, but I didn't feel as attached to the action as in
"Saving Private Ryan" or "Braveheart." All in
all, it's far from terrible, but far from great. However, it
very well carries on the message of patriotism.