The real satisfaction with this movie is the ambiguity of the situation; whether you think Samuel L Jackson's Marine Colonel should be convicted of the killings of potentially innocent civilians. No need to cover the plot-it's all there on the cover.
Some of this is brilliantly, if a tad heavy-handedly done as evidence is released not only to the Court but also to the audience throughout the film, making the final sentence, one hopes, inevitable.
Jackson is as solid as ever, Tommy Lees Jones is Tommy Lee Jones, which is more than enough. I agree with another reviewer that Guy Pearce was less good as the Prosecutor.
From here on, there are mild spoilers, so be warned.
The second, equally important element of the film is how the Government who put the man in an impossible position in the first place were ready to lie and swindle to ensure he took the blame, not only for their Country, but for their own personal ends- very resonant in the light of relatively recent examples. Once again, we see the risk of a man being judged by those not qualified to judge him, as happens too often today.
My own feelings for Jackson's character- early on, I thought he would burn, and probably on the evidence at the time, with some justification; later, it became clear that he was in a no-win situation, more evidence came in and if he was not truly innocent, he was assuredly not wholly guilty either.
One of the more thoughtful films to come out of recent military issues, and if not perfect, still very well executed, and it feels a good deal shorter than it is.
All in all, a damned good film.
Added note: I have seen in other reviews and elsewhere, the accusation of elements of this being anti-arab propaganda. Personally, I was so taken up in a brilliantly played out story that I missed that. Re-watching it, it is clear that it could be taken that way, whether or not it's the intended message. For me, I very much hope it wasn't the intention, but I'm grateful for its being pointed out, and maybe I am that naive.
Still think it's a damned good film; the certain enemy are the politicians.