In place of the moral ambiguity offered by, say, Platoon or Hamburger Hill, We Were Soldiers presents us with archetypes. Gibson's family man colonel is almost a parody of Patton, a man with so much heart you wonder how he manages to get up in the morning. He's a good Catholic, loves his men, and tells us that he's the first one on the battlefield and the last one off. And if that self-eulogising wasn't enough we have the slow-mo, heavily scored last-one-into-the-helicopter moment to prove it. In uncomfortably jingoistic contrast, the commander of the Viet Cong never leaves his cavernous headquarters as he sends his faceless foot soldiers to their death.
What saves the film are Ryan Hurst's performance as the stoic Sergeant Ernie Savage and Barry Pepper's non-combatant journalist who gets caught up in the action and has to fight to survive, both of whom inject some much-needed humanity into the action. Otherwise there is so little character development before the offensive that you find yourself squinting at the screen trying to work out who just bought the bullet when you really should be feeling every gunshot. Braveheart scribe Randall Wallace's direction is heavy handed and over sentimental--relentless violence masquerades as poignant remembrances of the futility of war--and the only time it ever approaches genuine emotion is the scene where the wives begin receiving telegrams detailing their husband's deaths. When measured against Hamburger Hill and Full Metal Jacket, We Were Soldiers doesn't even deserve to be in the same platoon. --Kristen Bowditch
Feature length commentary from Director Randall Wallace
Ten deleted scenes with optional commentary
"Getting It Right" making-of documentary
TV and Radio spots
What gives this film such strength is that the basis of the story is true - with around 400 american soldiers outnumbered ten to one by the North Vietnamese army in the ensuing battle which is to follow. You feel the rising tension of the situation as the soldiers move into the military zone, coupled with the helplessness of the soldiers wives, some of them with babies who are left behind to wait, and the clumsy even callous way in which the army delivers telegrams of those killed using taxi-drivers.
While I am very wary of the Hollywood war/propaganda machine punching out films depicting the american soldier as good true and invincible, all of which is a huge turn off to me. Its worth remembering that most soldiers (reflective of the communites they come from) are ordinary decent people with wives and families who try to live good lives according to their understanding, and that good is expressed through the comradeship and loyalty to one another and to their unit.
I dont doubt for a second there is a lot of poetic license in this film and "hollywoodisation" of much of what happened, so remember when watching, that the basis of Hollywood is first to entertain and later to educate
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions