We Were Soldiers

We Were Soldiers is the latest war movie to be released post 9/11 (after Behind Enemy Lines, Black Hawk Down, and Hart's War) based o­n the 1993 book by Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore and war correspondent Joseph L.Galloway (We Were Soldiers o­nce And Young) detailing the battle of the Ia Drang Valley (November 1965), the first major encounter between the U.S. and North Vietnam. Mel Gibson stars as Lt. Moore, the heroic and paternalistic 7th Cavalry leader who took o­n 2,000 North Vietnamese troops with 400 of his own men, resulting in a protracted and bloody carnage of 234 American soldiers killed over four days of combat, a prelude to the horrors of a Vietnam sadly known to its veterans as Americaís most mismanaged and regrettable war. Writer/director Wallace (who penned Braveheart and Pearl Harbor) has chosen to mesh the savage brutality of the action sequences with individual characterizations of soldiers (and their homefront wives), including an even-handed portrayal of the Vietnamese, depicting their own patriotism and sacrifice. Sam Elliott is great as the gruff warhorse, supported by commendable turns from Greg Kinnear, Barry Pepper, and Chris Klein. Where the film fails us is in its simplistic evocation of war heroics and homefront sentimentality, without delving into the burning question of preliminary American involvement in Vietnam. 

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