16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A lot better than it is given credit for,
This review is from: We Were Soldiers [DVD]  (DVD)
This film is an easy one to hate. Put together 'jingoistic', 'flag-waving', 'Mel Gibson' and 'Vietnam' and instantly a lot of people are prepared to say it's awful without seeing it or, if seeing it, without seeing beyond those words.
Actually it is a very serious movie about combat and fighting soldiers. There is a genuine attempt to develop characters and explain not so much why the Vietnam war was fought, but how men can fight at all, what sticks them together. It is actually a very exciting movie - more so than some other modern war films that are flashy, expressionistic and more cynical. I like it, but Black Hawk Down springs to mind. There is a sense that not all the US troops are getting out and you actually care about that.
The Gibson character has some good lines and I just don't agree with some of the reviewers here that he is wrong for the role. The kind of insouciant bravery and indifference to incoming fire that he shows, that Plumley shows, is what happens with certain leaders in combat. You read the same thing about divisional commanders on Omaha Beach. They didn't die. Therefore it's accurate. In his acting, his sense of purpose, shines through. This is not a star faxing in his performance.
The deleted scenes are interesting as they show that the film-makers were contemplating widening the debate about Vietnam involvement, about the NVA will to win. So a scene with Hal Moore (Gibson) and General Westmoreland - officer commanding Vietnam - ends up of the cutting room floor, and I think they were right. The intensity of the combat experience is what this is all about.
Ok, Madeline Stowe's role is under-written (she's had no good parts since Last of the Mohicans) and the civil rights reference is clumsy, but the film is about combat. It's in combat it works.
I've got them all on my shelf - Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far (even Enemy at the Gates, I am ashamed to say). We Were Soldiers is the one I play again and again.