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We Were Soldiers
2002 - R - 127 Mins.
Director: Randall Wallace
Producer: Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson
Written By: Randall Wallace
Starring: Mel Gibson, Barry Pepper, Chris Klein, Greg Kinnear, Clark Gregg
Review by: Joe Rickey
   
Mel Gibson goes to war again in We Were Soldiers from director Randall Wallace. Gibson collaborated with Wallace previously when they combined to create the film Braveheart. Like Braveheart their latest is a very realistic and effective war film.

A veteran general (Mel Gibson) leads his men into the first major battle of the Vietnam War for the USA and finds that his men are greatly outnumbered and encircled. They now must find a way to get out of the precarious situation without suffering devastating casualties.

To begin with, I must say that the battle scenes in this film are very intense and realistic. They easily match those found in the equally stirring Saving Private Ryan. The filmmakers obviously went for total and complete realism in their depiction of the horrors of war, and they succeeded admirably. Also worth mentioning is how We Were Soldiers shows how the war affected the soldiers’ wives. The film has some very tear jerking scenes involving Gibson’s wife delivering letters to other wives whose husbands died in battle. In this case, the aforementioned term is used in a positive connotation; unlike how it is usually utilized. By including these scenes, the film illustrates effortlessly all facets of the war because it also makes certain to show the enemy’s side to most every issue and event that takes place. Had it not done this, it would risk being thoroughly one-sided and jingoistic.

The great acting all around makes the battle scenes and the rest of the film very well done. Mel Gibson delivers his best performance since the aforementioned Braveheart. He handles both the dramatic scenes in battle and the heart wrenching scenes at home before he goes off to war. As his wife Madeleine Stowe (Impostor) is very good. She shows a wide variety of emotions with ease and resists the temptation to go over the edge in her stirring portrayal of the wife of a solider gone to war. Chris Klein (Rollerball) is surprisingly successful as young Lt. Jack Geoghegan. Needless to say, he improves vastly over his work in the abomination that was ‘Rollerball.’ Sam Elliot as war-hardened Basil Plumley manages to make his one-dimensional character seem more fleshed out than he really is with touches of humor and heart.

The only real fault I could find in We Were Soldiers is that the film really doesn’t give the audience any insight into the Vietnamese side of the war. The efforts in this area come off as half-hearted at best. Black Hawk Down is another recent war film that gives a much better view of the enemy.

We Were Soldiers is a slightly flawed but touching and realistic war film with some really great acting by all involved. Mel Gibson can team up with Randall Wallace anytime he wants to because they sure know how to create memorable movie magic together. They seem to be especially adept at producing war films that are heroic, make use of juxtaposition in detailing the finer points of what is at stake, and just are all around great films.






 
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

 
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