"We Were Soldiers"
Directed by Randall Wallace.
Written by Randall Wallace. Based on the book by Harold G.
Moore and Joseph L. Galloway.
Starring Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott and Greg Kinnear.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 3/4/02
I went out to the multiplex late tonight to
see the new Mel Gibson film "We Were Soldiers." I was absolutely,
positively sure that--after seeing the trailer--this film was going
to suck. It looked not unlike
"The Patriot"...which, looked not
unlike "Braveheart." My first thought was "Man, hasn't Mel done
this film like, three times???"
Damn, was I wrong. "We Were Soldiers"
follows the efforts of Lt. Col. Hal Moore (Gibson) as he leads 400
American soldiers into "The Valley of Death" in a November 1965
skirmish that really happened. The skirmish is made possible
because of America's foray into helicopter assistance in Vietnam, so
with the aid of a boatload of choppers, troops are continuously
dropped off, ammo resupplied, and wounded are evacuated over the
course of three days as Moore's soldiers are surrounded by
And, much like the better
"Black Hawk Down",
once the skirmish begins, director Randall Wallace keeps the film
going full throttle and a bunch of folks get slaughtered. War
movies seem to get more and more violent every movie now, instead of
just every year, and "We Were Soldiers" seems to have more people
get shot in the neck than any movie I can remember. Oh, and you may
want to close your eyes when the Chinese-American guy gets napalmed
late in the film; most of my audience seemed to wish they had.
The film is just damned powerful, and that
is not a word I say too often. Partially because this is based on a
true story, but also because the film does a great job of showing
the lives of the soldiers' wives back in the US, the film has more
going for it than your average Vietnam film. Support by Barry
Pepper, Sam Elliott (as the crusty sergeant), and Greg Kinnear is
very good, as is the acting provided by TV's Felicity, Keri Russell,
and Madeleine Stowe in the normally-thankless wife roles. And, like
any good epic war film, the score is good and rousing.
Hey, if you had to pick, I would see "Black
Hawk Down" over "We Were Soldiers"...but, this is the rare case
where sloppy seconds is not such a bad thing.
Rating: $9.00 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard