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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.57%
Average: 16.31%
Pretty Bad: 16.31%
Total Crap: 9.22%

6 reviews, 105 user ratings

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We Were Soldiers
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by Preston Jones

"Gritty, powerful filmmaking."
4 stars

For good or ill, 1998’s Saving Private Ryan irrevocably changed the face of the modern war movie. Gone are the days when soldiers expired from bloodless wounds, gasping poetry as they breathed their last. War movies circa 2002 all feature graphic, unrelenting violence that grab audiences by the collar and refuse to let go.

Gone as well are the days of clear delineations between good and evil; now war films are portraits of men, on both sides of the conflict, painted in shades of gray.
The latest war film to march into multiplexes (and there have been many of the course of the last three months--nearly a half dozen) is writer/director Randall Wallace’s (Braveheart) adaptation of Lt. Gen. Harold Moore (Ret.) and Joseph Galloway’s book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam shortened simply to We Were Soldiers.
The book focuses on three days in November 1965, when some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley.
2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers immediately surrounded them. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was slaughtered. Together, these events constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War.
Told by the commander of the battalion and the only journalist on the ground through the fighting, We Were Soldiers is a devastating yet uplifting story of courage and determination in the face of incredible odds.
Much of the material in the 535-page book is condensed into a two and a half hour movie but still runs about 20 minutes too long. Moore (Mel Gibson) is a no-nonsense Lt. Col. in 1964, when he’s assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia with his wife, Julie (Madeline Stowe) and their five children.
Moore is placed in charge of the new air cavalry, backed up by his second in command, Sgt. Maj. Plumley (Sam Elliott). The young recruits, eager to fight, look to Lt. Jack Geoghegan (Chris Klein) for leadership; this leads to one plus that We Were Soldiers has that another war-themed film, Black Hawk Down, lacks is that the men are not faceless going into battle, but rather Wallace takes the time at the beginning of the film to familiarize the audience with the characters.
An interesting touch to We Were Soldiers is that the Vietnamese are presented as characters with a conscience rather than a faceless enemy intent on massacring Americans, a la Oliver Stone’s Platoon. The Vietnamese commander, Ahn (Don Duong) is portrayed as just as human and just as much a strategist as Moore, a refreshing viewpoint not shared by many war films.
Once the film touches down in Ia Drang, the “Valley of Death,” as Moore terms it, all hell breaks loose. While it is hardly a caveat anymore when dealing with modern war films, it still bears mentioning: We Were Soldiers is graphically violent, at times unrelentingly so. At the screening I attended, children of no older than ten were seated in front of me and they recoiled several times from the images onscreen. Nothing in this film is suitable for children, and parents should heed the rating system. It is in place for a reason.
Thankfully, this offering from writer/director Wallace is closer to the excellence that is Braveheart than the intermittently successful misfire of Pearl Harbor. The cast is excellent, with the standouts being Elliott as the gruff Plumley, Greg Kinnear as the cocky Maj. Bruce Crandall and Klein, eradicating any doubts that he can handle dramatic material; this is easily his best performance since 1999’s underrated Election.

Although the days of the bloodless, clear-cut war films may be long gone, this does not mean they are of lesser quality. We Were Soldiers is visceral, kinetic filmmaking that needs to be experienced on the big screen; a film well worth your time, We Were Soldiers offers a testimony to those serving our country in the Armed Forces.

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originally posted: 03/03/02 12:22:35
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User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell good not great war flick 4 stars
9/06/12 Ed Not every movie is artsy fartsy. This is an authentic and realistic story 4 stars
8/15/09 Jeff Wilder Good war pic that was WAY better than Pearl Harbor, 4 stars
1/27/08 Charles Tatum Fantastic, thanks to Wallace's direction 5 stars
12/14/07 davidbobo20 One of Mel Gibson's best. 5 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Wallace again pisses on the soldiers who fought and died for their country. 2 stars
3/06/07 mb Might Be The Best Movie I Ever Saw 5 stars
10/21/06 Hursty take it as is meant, a salute to your fighting men 5 stars
8/05/06 chienne What the hell has Madeleine done to her lips?? Lick em & stick her to a window. 4 stars
7/17/06 William Goss Sporadically exciting if familiar overall, yet never deludes itself w/ self-importance. 3 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Powerful in a few spots, quite blah in most of the others. 3 stars
4/08/06 Frank Rountree Excellent movie based on the true story, as a retired veteran I could relate well 5 stars
1/22/06 Cock pure shite 1 stars
1/22/06 Quigley it goes to much into the horrifying voilence, but it has its moments of true power 4 stars
12/10/05 JohnWalker Sam El;liot was fine,hell the Army is full of cowboys and it was a 45 not a 9mm 4 stars
11/26/05 Lowtax neocunt right wing jerk off material 1 stars
11/16/05 emily aguero i thought that movie was incredible, anyone who doesnt like it doesnt want to face the past 5 stars
10/21/05 Dustin Titley-stanzel I thought it was great and the soundtrack was awsome 5 stars
10/09/05 Brendon Messer This movie shows what war is really like freinds and family dying not some flashy shoot em 5 stars
9/24/05 c cold ab fab 5 stars
8/25/05 ES Sam Elliot rocks, this movie doesn't 2 stars
7/25/05 jjulian Check out DVD final deleted scene, which gutless director left out--makes a huge difference 4 stars
6/13/05 Indrid Cold Simple-minded but effective. Wisely avoids addressing the bigger issues about the war. 4 stars
6/08/05 Anthony G AMF your an idiot this movie rocked, Braveheart sucks black dick for coke like your mom amf 5 stars
4/13/05 Quigley powerful, but incredibly hard to sit throguh. I don't know if i could watch it again 4 stars
4/04/05 Ric Great battle scenes and solid acting override the cliched dialogue and repetitive violence. 4 stars
2/27/05 Beverley Mooren Best Viet Nam war movie ever. 5 stars
2/17/05 Rafael Ochoa good 4 stars
2/15/05 Rock-steady hard to imagine, that one year after this he becomes a christian and makes pos christ 5 stars
12/08/04 Rebecca To the critics that had bad ratings.....what the hell do you know? 5 stars
11/08/04 Steve It is the most KICK ASS Vietnam war movie ever 5 stars
11/07/04 R.W. Welch Early Air Cav op is effectively portrayed. Gibson quite convincing here. 4 stars
9/12/04 Donald Jacobsen Like DJ said, WTFPWNT 5 stars
8/14/04 Kenneth Curtis Best Vietnam movie I've ever seen. Really captures what the men went through then. 5 stars
7/30/04 DJ Wtf? Pwnt. 5 stars
7/18/04 Gynov Like Dan said, a great movie about LZ X-ray. 5 stars
4/22/04 Jamie Kennett One of the most moving war films ive seen 5 stars
4/01/04 Nick Byram Negative critics blinded by ideology. Great show of war horrors and brotherhood of troops 5 stars
12/07/03 J Explosive!!!! *** 1/2 out of 4 5 stars
11/12/03 Luke the knife attached to the cool 4 stars
11/09/03 Jim You pussies that are calling this film down, obviously were never in the service! 5 stars
10/01/03 Lonnie Strang outstanding performances by All, the battle of that fateful day seemed to me to be very acc 5 stars
7/07/03 Daniel Stockman This was a wonderful, and realistic film about the battle of Lz-Xray in November 1965. 5 stars
6/22/03 Daniel P Holla i've seen better film on teeth, less depth than feather 1 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink Patriotic, overblown piece of propaganda shit. My shit is more tasteful than this crudeness 1 stars
4/10/03 Jack Bourbon Some good scenes. . . decent overall. 3 stars
2/04/03 torebel This is the movie my father (Vietnam Vet) had been waiting to see. 5 stars
2/02/03 Lord David Simplistic piffle - it was an awful war and deserves better than this 2 stars
2/02/03 G.C. Benwell worse than worst 1 stars
1/01/03 Millie Edwards I wish everyone would take the time to sit down and watch this movie. It is truly AWESOME! 5 stars
11/07/02 victor really good 5 stars
11/04/02 Massive Johnson badly done. i didn't know only pretty people went to vietnam. 2 stars
10/23/02 Phil M. Aficionado Expected ho-hum, but liked it plenty. Riveting action 4 stars
10/23/02 Phil M. Aficionado Expected ho-hum, but liked it plenty. Riveting action 4 stars
10/07/02 marco guerra how can people say 'good' ?iS THEIR BRAIN CONNECTED? 2 stars
10/01/02 woot Historically inaccurate, horribly cliched, meaningless. Read the book. 1 stars
9/29/02 Ryback good movie! Could have used some good music tho 4 stars
9/25/02 Eric Powerful and intense battle scenes. Gibson and Pepper are great. 5 stars
9/23/02 Jeff Mesenbrink THE ONLY REAL FUCKING VIETNAM MOVIE.......EVER!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/01/02 Doc Shock Enjoyable, but nothing special 4 stars
8/12/02 Richard Williams bloody AWESOME! , Gibson provided an excellent performance, Elliot & Pepper were also great 5 stars
8/07/02 Obi Wan Bring me the DVD copy w/plenty of goodies!! 5 stars
8/04/02 Michael Macias best war fim i ever saw 5 stars
8/01/02 loaded1200 Good Movie! 5 stars
7/04/02 KMG I like Mel. I don't like post-Patriot sugar-ass lets have 20 kids Mel. 3 stars
6/07/02 Allison Lafferty Poignant account of angst, grief, and terror of Vietnam War with fairness to all. 5 stars
5/21/02 Shrike Black Hawk Down doesn't have to worry about this stealing its thunder 3 stars
4/30/02 Sharron Great depiction of a true story. Pearl Harbor was ruined by a script rewrite,not R Wallace. 5 stars
4/29/02 Babybelle A moving and well performed story based on fact. Mel Rocks!! 5 stars
4/27/02 Gremlin Up there with platoon and Apocolapse Now. 5 stars
4/26/02 Joe Potvin It's all true. Hal Moore and Joe are just like that. Mel and Sam-You got it right. 5 stars
4/22/02 tom cruz fuc..... Mel. Remember US came with no reasons. Not worth fuc....$ 1 stars
4/17/02 John Garceau Powerful and emotional movie for those who know about Nam. Everything is true read the book 5 stars
4/15/02 John Wilkinson fantastic 5 stars
4/13/02 Don Norman Originally shows both sides without demonizing either. Honor and reality. 5 stars
4/10/02 Kelly Mears Damned good movie. Respected by the people that were portrayed in the movie. 4 stars
4/05/02 Scott Sumner Col. Moore, although a bonafide brave solider, should pull Mel's mouth out of his ass...... 3 stars
4/05/02 Obi Wan Really liked the film but I thought it should have more gore and war! 4 stars
3/30/02 Stuvaustin I was actually pretty dissapointed especially since I love war movies 3 stars
3/21/02 J.N. DeSantis You had to be there and return to understand 5 stars
3/21/02 The Man Not as good as most Vietnam movies, but still a valid entry, save for 2 VERY POOR scenes. 3 stars
3/12/02 spaceworm More to it than BLACK HAWK, and just as loud. 4 stars
3/12/02 Gavin M. Great Soundtrack, very intense, you get what you went for. 5 stars
3/10/02 sean horan Brilliant cinematography, unique point of view, up-close and personal combat and melodrama. 5 stars
3/10/02 Chris K. This film is directed by Randall Walace, the same dick that wrote PEARL HARBOR! Oh well. 1 stars
3/09/02 Russell L. Ross Moore, Galloway didnt get it right either 1 stars
3/09/02 Jeff Sappy, rah-rah Patriotism almost as freaky as Madeleine Stowe's new lips 3 stars
3/08/02 Obi Wan Powerful, Randall and Mel do it again!! A DVD Must Have!! 5 stars
3/07/02 Weird Andy The battle scenes are intense, but the melodrama(esp. the officers' wives stuff)is boring 3 stars
3/06/02 FriscoJohn One of the best of the current crop. 4 stars
3/05/02 Fenian One of the best war movies I've ever seen. 5 stars
3/05/02 Glenn Louderback riviting 5 stars
3/05/02 SablKnight One music-and-tinkling-shell-casings battle scene too many for my tastes. 3 stars
3/05/02 Todd Thank god those old war movies are dead and gone. 5 stars
3/04/02 G-Man Erik had to have his parents tuck him in after he saw it. 5 stars
3/04/02 NiceGlamourShotErik One of the Best War movies in the past 20 years 5 stars
3/04/02 StudMaster War movie fans will love it and most chicks will probably dig Mel and the family story. 5 stars
3/04/02 David Addison It is no surprise that Erik would sit through this movie and think about bowel movements. 5 stars
3/04/02 Patti Charron Erik the Movieman needs to grow up. 5 stars
3/04/02 Jesus Christ I condemn war. 1 stars
3/03/02 Dingus The Greatest War movie since the remake of Planet of the Apes 1 stars
3/03/02 dan a very accurate and realistic portrayal of the 1st Cavalry Division's baptism by fire 4 stars
3/02/02 Chris K. This is directed by Randall Walace, the same bastard who wrote PEARL HARBOR! Wow! 1 stars
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  01-Mar-2002 (R)



Directed by
  Randall Wallace

Written by
  Randall Wallace

  Mel Gibson
  Madeline Stowe
  Greg Kinnear
  Barry Pepper
  Sam Elliot
  Keri Russell

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