We Were Soldiers
Starring:
Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott, Madeline Stowe, Greg Kinnear
Directed By :
Randall Wallace
Grade
A

We Were Soldiers is based on the true story of the first major American firefight in the Vietnam War. Mel Gibson plays Lt. Col. Hal Moore, a veteran of the Korean War, who is given command of the 7th cavalry, the first wave of soldiers to land at the Ia Drang Valley, site of the aforementioned firefight.

The first hour of the movie focuses on Gibson and his family, and the training of the troops for the battle. We get to know some of the captains and soldiers, most notably Sgt. Major Basil Plumley (Sam Elliott), Lt. Jack Geoghegan (Chris Klein), and Maj. Bruce "Snakes***" Crandall (Greg Kinnear). We learn of their families, and how they form a bond with each other, because on the battlefield, "each other is all we're gonna have." Right before they ship out, Lt. Col. Moore learns that he will be losing his experienced officers and soldiers, and must lead a squadron of new recruits and officers with no combat experience. As if to add some sick humorous twist, the General informs him he is now the leader of the 7th cavalry, the division made infamous by Custer and his last stand.

The remainder of the film takes place during the firefight. The battle scenes are quite well done, on the same level as (and at times surpassing) Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, which is to say quite realistic. There are bullets flying everywhere, artillery shells exploding mere feet from the soldiers, and napalm bombs dropped that scorch entire acres of land. If you are squeamish about blood and guts, you might want to close your eyes during certain scenes, one in particular involving a heavily burned soldier. Much like those in SPR and BHD, We Were Soldiers' battle scenes don't attempt to glamorize war, they portray is like it is: brutal and unforgiving.

One thing I was very impressed with was the portrayal of the Vietnamese soldiers and their general. Most war movies give us faceless, emotionless cannon fodder to represent the enemy. We Were Soldiers shows us that these were a people not unlike ourselves, with friends, families, and a deep love of their country. They fought to protect that country, much as we fight to protect ours.

We Were Soldiers does for the Vietnam War what Saving Private Ryan did for WWII: it makes you appreciate the thousands of soldiers who died for their country. Whether the war they fought was "politically correct" or not doesn't diminish the fact that these men were willing to lay down their life for their country and their fellow soldiers, and for that they need to be remembered. If you like war movies at all you should see We Were Soldiers, you won't be disappointed.

- - Darken Rahl

ILS is not affiliated with, endorsed by or related to any of the products, companies, artists or parties legally responsible for the items referred to on this website. No copyright infringement is intended.