We Were Soldiers

Movie Reviews | Mar 1st, 2002

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Starring Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear, Chris Klein, Barry Pepper, Keri Russell
Written By: Randall Wallace
Directed By: Randall Wallace
It’s strange to see that every other week there is a war movie coming out. But this is the first one I’ve seen out of the bunch. I’ll pretty much see anything with Mel Gibson in it. He’s a good actor and usually does good movies. Once I heard Randall Wallace and Gibson were teaming up again, I knew this film shouldn’t be missed.

The movie is based on a true story, and is about Lt. Colonel Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson) preparing his cavalry for the inevitable war. A lot of the soldiers are young, but also have wife and kids. Moore has been in a few wars before Vietnam has 5 children of his own plus a wife, played by Madeleine Stowe. His cavalry gets sent into Vietnam, the spot where it’s later known as the “The Valley Of Death.” Over a 3 day period, Moore sees his men get badly wounded and killed. As the movie starts off, we see the very beginning of the war as the French get ambushed and it’s pretty brutal to watch.

Actually the whole movie is brutal to watch. I was holding my mouth with horror most of the time. So this film isn’t for faint at heart. The first 45 minutes of the film is about character development and you get to know a lot of the main characters in the film. One character I thought was good was Sam Elliott’s character, Sgt-Maj. Basil Plumley. He was a rude and grumpy old military guy. But he had some funny moments in the film, if you can even imagine there being funny lines in this film. Other smaller roles in the film included Greg Kinnear (okay), and Chris Klein (ugh).

Chris Klein isn’t a good actor, period. Barry Pepper, who was in Saving Private Ryan, Green Mile and 61 turns up as a reporter, named Joe Galloway, taking pictures of the war. But when the time comes, he has to defend himself against the enemy. The story was narrated by him, though it wasn’t a lot of narrating. He also wrote the book with Moore based on this film. I almost wished they showed more of his character because it was interesting to see a reporter end up in battle. To give the audience some relief, they switched back to all the wives of the men of the 7th Calvary. Those scenes almost gave me a tear or two because it was seeing the wives, get Western Union letters from Taxi cab drivers saying their husbands have been killed. Moore’s wife asked the taxi cab driver to give her the letters from now on so she can personally deliver the letters.

I thought that was a touching part of the story. And for me, upsetting one. As for the story, I thought it was fine. I’m sure this was more entertainment than “true story.” I’m sure some Vets out there will say that isn’t how it happened. I can’t really tell to be honest. Randall Wallace directed only a few films, like the Man In The Iron Mask. He’s usually a writer and has worked with Mel Gibson in the past a few times like Braveheart. He also wrote Pearl Harbor. There were a few scenes that were really intense. One that I could think of was after someone got burned, a man tries to pick him up by the legs and his skin comes off. Really really intense. I liked how the explosions, gunplay and all that looked real. Not this crappy CGI bullshit that Hollywood is pumping out every film. Like, “ohhh, look at the fake looking plane flying, ohhh.”

The score of the film was done by Nick Glennie Smith, who has worked with Wallace in the past, on The Man In The Iron Mask. His score has a military feel to it, but it also sounded like Hans Zimmer’s score to Blackhawk Down. It worked in the film though. From seeing war movie after war movie, this film doesn’t stand out as a different one but it was well executed and serves it’s purpose. And everytime I see a war film like Saving Private Ryan or Band Of Brothers, I can’t see my self being in the army. It’s just something I don’t see myself doing. But from seeing the films, it definitely makes you respect all the man in Armed Forces and what they have done. AND especially what the Armed Forces are doing now in the Middle East. Any war film fan will like this movie, though it might not be for most people out there.

Favorite Scenes: I didn’t really have a favorite scene but my favorite character was Sgt-Maj. Basil Plumley played by Sam Elliott
Running Time: 0 minutes
Overall Rating:


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