We Were Soldiers movie reviewWe Were Soldiers review

We Were Soldiers

        :: New Films
     :: Now Playing
     :: DVD releases
     :: Preview Guide
     :: Browse reviews

Free - Get all the new reviews by e-mail
Powered by YourMailinglistProvider

We Were Soldiers
Directed by Randall Wallace

Starring: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Sam Elliott, Chris Klein
Running Time: 2:16
Country: USA
Year: 2002
Web: Official Site
Based on: Novel
If you ever wondered what a brave-hearted patriot could have done in Vietnam, you might get an idea in the flat We Were Soldiers, the second directing effort from screenwriter-producer Randall Wallace.

Based on Harold G. Moore's novel, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, the film relates the first American engagement in Vietnam. Focusing on the preparation and the battle, we follow Moore (Mel Gibson) as a loving father and heroic colonel leading the charge of the new 7th cavalry (a helicopter soldier unit).

In case you missed the point at the beginning and the couple of times it is repeated throughout the movie, this is the same unit general Custer led during the Indian wars, making it clear that We Were Soldiers is nothing short of a Little Big Horn set in Vietnam. While the battle is the main focus, the film also develops two parallel storylines: one involving the soldiers' wives and another about the enemy.

Following the new trend established by Braveheart and later on by Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers is a gory depiction of combat. Unfortunately the film arrives too late. While almost everything has already been said about Vietnam onscreen, this film can't even pretend to be a realistic recreation of war since Black Hawk Down has just redefined a new level of realism. We are therefore left with not much to care about, since the movie even lacks the fun that the heavily biased Patriot at least provided.

Randall Wallace's lack of direction results in a messy picture where it is difficult to get grip to anything. The man who penned the glorious epic Braveheart should confine himself to writing (even though we owe him Pearl Harbor) rather than directing (do you remember his first effort, The Man in the Iron Mask?). The camera moves from one group of soldiers to another one without giving us any sense of location. Despite the abundance of blood, the action is unspectacular. The enemy moves like a bunch of static zombies waiting to be slaughtered, thus annihilating any sense of urgency and danger despite all the American casualties. The photography is also pretty dull, giving the ensemble the look of a made-for-TV war flick that could have been shot in Griffith Park. The movie isn't consistent neither in style nor rhythm. The fights are intertwined with slow-motion scenes with Celtic music. Mr. Wallace must have forgotten that this isn't Braveheart anymore. Other moments borrow heavily from classics of the genre from Platoon to Apocalypse Now.

The real potential of the movie actually lies in the two subplots. Showing the war from the wives' perspective was a good idea from the beginning and some moments, such as the delivery of letters, are quite moving. Unfortunately this wasn't developed further as Madeleine Stowe's character spends most of her time looking worried or crying. The other story is tighter. It is rare that a war film shows the enemy's point of view, and to We Were Soldiers' credit, here the Vietnamese are respected. Instead of being some simple evil caricatures, they are shown as decent and brave people who are there to do their job, just like the American soldiers.

The characters are poorly drawn. The colonel and his wisecrack sidekick sergeant are reminiscent of some John Ford films starring John Wayne. Mel Gibson isn't very convincing as a charismatic troop leader but does a better job as a family man. While Barry Pepper isn't too bad as a reporter, other supporting actors such as Chris Klein and Greg Kinnear are fairly transparent. Only Sam Elliott manages to bring some fun and roughness to this rather pale cast.

Unsuccessfully trying to reach out in too many directions, We Were Soldiers loses its sense of purpose.

  Fred Thom
| About Plume Noire | Contacts | Advertising | Submit for review |
| Contributors Wanted! | Traffic | Store | Mailing List | Privacy Policy |

Copyright ©1998-2017 LA PLUME NOIRE All rights reserved.

We Were Soldiers