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"RULES OF ENGAGEMENT"
(2000) (Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Extreme *Extreme Heavy Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Mild None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None Minor Minor Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A retired military lawyer agrees to defend his old friend, a current Marine colonel who's being court-martialed for giving the order to fire upon protesters during a foreign uprising at an American embassy.
PLOT:
Col. Terry Childers (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) and Col. Hays Hodges (TOMMY LEE JONES) have been friends for nearly thirty years since Childers saved Hodges' life in Vietnam via a morally questionable, but lethal tactic. Now, Hodges has just retired from the service as a military lawyer and Childers has assumed command of an elite, tactical Marine unit.

When the American embassy in Yemen finds itself under siege, Childers and his team are sent in to rescue Ambassador Mourain (BEN KINGSLEY), his wife (ANNE ARCHER) and their young son while securing the embassy. After removing the ambassador and his family and losing three of his men to sniper gunfire, Childers orders his men, including Capt. Lee (BLAIR UNDERWOOD), to open fire on the hostile protesters.

The resulting large loss of life immediately creates a political firestorm that reaches the highest levels of the U.S. government. As such, National Security Adviser William Sokal (BRUCE GREENWOOD), not wanting the U.S. to take the blame for what he considers the actions of a lone madman, has Childers brought up on charges of violating the rules of engagement by killing presumably innocent people during that conflict.

Unable to believe he's facing a court-martial for what he considered to be the correct course of action, Childers asks Hodges to defend him in a military trial that's being rushed through the system. Despite worrying that he's not a good enough lawyer to defend his friend and that he might taint his reputation of being the son of the legendary Gen. H. Lawrence Hodges (PHILIP BAKER HALL), Hays decides to help Childers.

As the trial begins and military lawyer Maj. Mark Biggs (GUY PEARCE) heads the prosecution and their seemingly strong case, Hodges, with the assistance of Capt. Tom Chandler (MARK FEUERSTEIN), sets out to learn what he can about Childers' actions in Yemen, refute the evidence or lack thereof presented by Biggs, and prevent his longtime friend from being found guilty as charged.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older male teens might be drawn to the usual military courtroom theatrics and testosterone, but it's unlikely many other kids will want to see it unless they're fans of someone in the cast.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For scenes of war violence, and for language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON plays a Marine colonel who's been charged with murdering innocent foreign civilians during an uprising at an American embassy. While he did order his troops to fire into the crowd containing innocent people, he did believe that some of them were armed and that his actions (just like executing an unarmed P.O.W. in Vietnam) were justifiable for saving his men. He also uses strong profanity.
  • TOMMY LEE JONES plays his longtime friend who owes his life to Childers and thus agrees to defend him in a military court. Along the way he does what he can to refute the prosecution's claims and evidence, briefly gets into a drunken fight with Childers and uses some strong profanity.
  • GUY PEARCE plays the determined but honorable lead prosecutor in the case who uses some strong profanity while proving a point during the court case.
  • BRUCE GREENWOOD plays the villainous national security advisor who uses strong profanity and withholds and then destroys evidence to make Childers the scapegoat.
  • BEN KINGSLEY plays the American ambassador who lies on the stand to save his job.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Violence is rated as extreme due to several sequences of warfare and conflict where many people (including women and children) are shot and wounded or killed, often with bloody and/or graphic wounds (other non-lethal violence is also present). Those several minute sequences may also be rather intense and/or disturbing to viewers.

    What makes them more disturbing is the moral ambiguity surrounding them where (much like in any war) violence is used to quell further violence and save one's comrades. As such, some viewers may see one of the protagonist's actions as being bad, while others will see them as the necessary thing to do to save American lives. Other bad attitudes are also present in the form of people who destroy evidence and/or lie under oath during the court case.

    Beyond that, profanity is also rated as extreme due to at least 25 uses of the "f" word, along with other profanities and colorful phrases, while some drinking and brief drunkenness are also present. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home who wants to see this film, we suggest that you take a closer look at the particulars of our detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Hodges reportedly was an alcoholic sometime in the past.
  • People drink liquor (beer, wine, cocktails) at Hodges' retirement party.
  • People have drinks at an anniversary party for Hodges' parents.
  • We see a bottle of booze next to Childers and he appears to have had several drinks.
  • Hodges has a mini-bottle of liquor on a plane and we then hear him ask for more. Later, he shows up at Childers' place drunk and picks a fight with his old friend.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • During a jungle battle scene, many of the wounded and dead are extremely bloody and we see blood squirt and/or pour out of different victims during this scene.
  • Marines who are shot and wounded/killed during the embassy siege are bloody.
  • Many of the protesters who are shot, wounded or killed are bloody, often in graphic ways (we see an overview as well at later views of the carnage and the many bloody bodies lying all over the ground).
  • In another flashback to the post-battle scene in Vietnam, we see more shots of the dead and bloody soldiers.
  • We see various photographs of the bloody victims (some with gory wounds) of the carnage in Yemen.
  • We see various children in Yemen with varying degrees of bloody/gory wounds from the earlier attack (and the doctor who's been treating them has their blood on his clothing).
  • Both Childers and Hodges' faces are a little bloody after they get into a fight with each other.
  • We hear Hodges vomiting in the bathroom (from nerves).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some may see Childers as having both in a scene from the Vietnam war where he holds a gun to an enemy radioman's head, ordering him to call off a nearby attack on other American soldiers. When he doesn't, Childers executes this unarmed man. He then holds his gun to another man's head (but doesn't shoot him).
  • The Yemenites who protest and act violently toward the American embassy and the people inside it (by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails as well as shooting at both with guns) obviously have bad attitudes.
  • Some may Childers' order to open fire on the violent protesters - knowing that innocent women and children might be caught in the gunfire - as having some or great deals of both types of attitudes.
  • A guy spits at Childers.
  • Sokal withholds and then destroys vital evidence that would exonerate Childers. Later, he threatens the ambassador with serious career repercussions if he doesn't testify against Childers. As such, and when on the stand, the ambassador lies about what really occurred (as does Sokal when he testifies).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • A scene depicts U.S. soldiers slowly making their way through a Vietnamese jungle only to encounter the enemy and then get involved in a gun and grenade battle where many people are killed (often with bloody results) and a person is executed with a gunshot to the head. Both parts of the sequence (the cautious walking & the actual battle) go on for several minutes.
  • In a scene from the Vietnam War, Childers holds a gun to an enemy radioman's head, ordering him to call off a nearby attack on other American soldiers. When he doesn't, Childers executes this unarmed man. He then holds his gun to another man's head (but doesn't shoot him).
  • A sequence that goes on for several minutes involves Childers and his team of Marines arriving at the besieged American embassy in Yemen where they encounter angry protesters and snipers who fire at them in their helicopters as well on the embassy's roof. After removing the Ambassador and his family, Childers and his team encounter more gunfire aimed at them and eventually return the fire, killing many protesters (with bloody/graphic results).
  • Some local Yemen men accost Hodges on their street with some mob mentality, but he manages to break free of them.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Machine guns/Handguns/Rifles/Grenades/Molotov cocktails: Used to threaten, wound or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Ceremonial sword: Given to Hodges on his retirement from the Marines.
  • Knives: Played with by some kids in Yemen.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Get the f*ck out of here," "Won't mean jack sh*t," "Keep your sh*t together," "Rag heads" and "Camel jockeys" (phrases Hodges believes Childers' may have used), "Screwed up" and "Pissed off."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of suspenseful/ominous music plays in a few scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 25 "f" words (11 used with "mother"), 18 "s" words, 7 hells, 4 damns, 3 asses, 2 S.O.B.s, 16 uses of "G-damn" and 1 use of "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • It appeared that a man on the street in Yemen was holding a cigarette.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Hodges is divorced.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether Childers was justified during the Vietnam War of executing an unarmed enemy soldier and threatening to do the same to another to convince them to call off a nearby attack on other American soldiers (and thus save their lives).
  • Likewise, the same holds true for his order to his men to open fire on the protesters knowing that some/many innocent people and children would probably be hurt or killed.
  • VIOLENCE
  • During a scene set during the Vietnam War, a battle breaks out between American and Vietnamese forces with many people being wounded or killed via gunfire (often with bloody/graphic results) while grenades also explode and wound or kill soldiers.
  • In a scene from the Vietnam War, Childers holds a gun to an enemy radioman's head, ordering him to call off a nearby attack on other American soldiers. When he doesn't, Childers executes this unarmed man. He then holds his gun to another man's head (but doesn't shoot him).
  • Snipers fire at American soldiers (in helicopters and on the embassy's roof) while protesters throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the building.
  • We see some protesters briefly beating a man and then carrying him away.
  • Men use a large log to smash holes in the door of the American embassy.
  • The snipers eventually shoot and wound or kill several Marines (we later hear that three were killed).
  • The Marines open fire on the protesters with machine gun fire and wound or kill many people (with bloody/graphic results). We later hear that 83 people were killed with 100 or so more being wounded.
  • After a man spits on him, Childers grabs the man, pins him against his car and then pushes him away.
  • Some local Yemen men accost Hodges on their street with some mob mentality, but he manages to break free of them.
  • Upset at Childers, Hodges belligerently confronts him. In response, Childers punches him in the face. Hodges tries to retaliate with a punch, but Childers throws him to the floor. The two then get into a fight with more punches thrown by each man, Hodges being thrown to the floor again, and Hodges then driving Childers back through an indoor door. Both men are a little bloody after this fight.
  • We see a flashback to the embassy incident and see both sides firing upon each other.



  • Reviewed April 4, 2000 / Posted April 7, 2000

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