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"WE WERE SOLDIERS"
(2002) (Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Action: A veteran officer leads his men into Vietnam only to find themselves surrounded and outnumbered in what would become the first big battle for the U.S. in the war.
PLOT:
It's 1964 and Lt. Col. Hal Moore (MEL GIBSON) and his wife, Julie (MADELEINE STOWE), and children have arrived at Fort Benning, GA where he's to preside over the Air Cavalry unit there with the assistance of Sgt. Major Basil Plumley (SAM ELLIOT). A deeply religious family man, Moore has come up with the revolutionary concept of using helicopters to drop men into battle situations and has thus enlisted chopper pilot Maj. Bruce Crandall (GREG KINNEAR) to assist in training his men.

Among them is Lt. Jack Geoghegan (CHRIS KLEIN), who's just become a parent along with wife Barbara (KERI RUSSELL). Moore and Plumley then train him and many others until they're finally sent off to Vietnam just as Moore is given command of the 7th Cavalry, a point he ironically states was also under Gen. Custer's leadership long ago.

Arriving in Ia Drang - a.k.a. "The Valley of Death" - in November 1965, Moore and his men suddenly find themselves vastly outnumbered by the Vietnamese forces that quickly surround them. Over a several day period, and as documented by photojournalist Joe Galloway (BARRY PEPPER), the Americans - despite suffering heavy losses that Julie and Barbara dutifully report to the other wives - don't give up as they try to figure out how to get themselves out of the precarious situation.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of military/war movies or someone in the cast they might, but this one seems most attractive to older male teens at best.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For sustained sequences of graphic war violence, and for language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MEL GIBSON plays the lieutenant colonel in charge of the American forces sent into Vietnam. A deeply religious family man, he sends his men into battle but worries about them and vows not to leave anyone - dead or alive - there. He also uses some profanity.
  • MADELEINE STOWE plays his wife who takes it upon herself to deliver the bad news about many of the other wives' husbands.
  • SAM ELLIOT plays Moore's gruff and seemingly fearless assistant, a sergeant major who uses some strong profanity.
  • GREG KINNEAR plays a chopper pilot enlisted by Moore to transport their troops who repeatedly returns to the battlefield to remove the dead and wounded.
  • CHRIS KLEIN plays one of the young soldiers, and a new father, assigned under Moore's command.
  • KERI RUSSELL plays his wife who assists Julie in delivering bad news to other wives about their husbands.
  • BARRY PEPPER plays a photojournalist who finds himself in the middle of a massive battle.
  • 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:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated war film. Violence is listed as extreme due to many battle scenes/skirmishes where many, many people are killed by gunfire, explosions, napalm or hand to hand combat. Some of those scenes have extremely gory and/or bloody results, while many of them might be quite unsettling and/or suspenseful to viewers. Those deaths all result in tense family scenes as the wives back home receive news of their husbands' deaths.

    Profanity consists of at least 4 "f" words, along with an assortment of other words and colorful phrases. A married couple is briefly seen being frisky in bed (no nudity or actual sex occurs), while various characters drink and/or smoke. Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information about the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Moore asks Crandall if he can buy him a drink. When Crandall agrees, Moore pulls out two bottles of what's presumably liquor and they drink them as they walk along through the base.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Various men wounded or killed in an early battle are very bloody (or have blood squirt out from their wounds).
  • We see a bad looking blister on one of the men's feet (from training).
  • Many people who are shot and wounded or killed have bloody wounds (some of the victims are very bloody, with one convulsing from his wounds), while those who attend to the wounded or dead have their blood on them.
  • More victims are extremely bloody.
  • An American throws a grenade like device that explodes near his own men, catching one on fire (who then screams in pain/agony from the phosphor burns that another man then attempts to cut out of his face with a knife).
  • More people are shot and wounded or killed, with very bloody results.
  • Doctors working on the wounded and dead who are bloody, and we see buckets of water being thrown into the open-air compartment of a large transport chopper to wash the blood out (resulting in bloody water running from it).
  • More people who are shot have blood squirt out and/or are bloody.
  • Moore and others urinate on hot mortar equipment to cool it off so it can be used again in battle (we see the urine hitting the metal).
  • We see an American soldier who's very burned (half of his face is blackened and is extremely gory). When others go to pick him up, we see the charred flesh of his legs slide off in another man's hands.
  • Another battle leads to more bloody victims, with some of the blood occasionally even splattering onto the camera lens.
  • We see a large pile of dead and bloody Vietnamese soldiers.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • While it somewhat depends on how one views the conflict as well as war in general, the Vietnamese are portrayed here as being the bad guys, and both sides kill many from the other.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be disturbing or suspenseful to viewers. In addition and for long stretches of time, the American forces find themselves outnumbered and surrounded by enemy forces closing in on them, and viewers may also find such scenes as suspenseful, tense or unsettling.
  • During one such scene, we see the point of view of a wounded man as an enemy soldier aims his rifle at his face (and thus the camera) and pulls the trigger.
  • Various Americans chase after a scout through the fields, but we know the man is simply luring them into a trap.
  • A soldier says he can smell the enemy approaching at night, so someone orders a flare like device to be fired to light up the sky. They then see that they're surrounded by enemy soldiers and thus open fire on them, wounding/killing many of them.
  • An enemy soldier rushes toward a group of Americans who don't see him coming with his bayonet leading the way, but Moore turns around at the last moment and shoots the man dead (with bloody results).
  • We see an American soldier who's very burned (half of his face is blackened and very gross looking). When others go to pick him up, we see the charred flesh of his legs slide off in another man's hands.
  • Moore and others slowly walk through a battlefield strewn with dead bodies at night, looking for several of their men.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Rifles/Machine guns/Hand grenades/Mortars/Napalm/Fighter Jets/Offshore artillery/Bayonets/Bombs: Seen, carried, practiced with and/or used to threaten, wound or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Snakesh*t," "Horsesh*t," "Bullsh*t," "No sh*t," "You are sh*tting me," "Custer was a p*ssy," "Bastards," "Who the hell are you?" "Balls" (testicles) and "Jackass."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • Scenes where people are suddenly hit by gunfire might startle some viewers.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful and/or ominous music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 4 "f" words (3 in English subtitles), 10 "s" words, 1 slang term using female genitals ("p*ssy"), 10 hells, 4 S.O.B.s, 2 damns, 5 uses of "G-damn," 2 of "Oh God" and 1 use of "My God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Hal and Julie (who are married) briefly wrestle around (clothed) on their bed after he jumps on her stating that he'll give her something to marvel about. We then see them kiss in a head and shoulders shot with him on top of her.
  • SMOKING
  • Moore, Plumley and Crandall each smoke a cigar once, while Galloway also smokes once and various miscellaneous men smoke in several scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Various wives receive telegrams regarding their husband's deaths in the battle and react accordingly.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy of this particular story.
  • The Vietnam War, particularly in the early years.
  • Racism - some brief comments are made about "No Coloreds" being allowed in a Laundromat.
  • Honor, courage and sacrifice.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see an early scene/flashback to the French involvement in Vietnam in 1954. French forces are suddenly assaulted (with a man being shot and blood squirting out, followed by various explosions and then many people wounding/killing others with gunfire, grenades, stabbing with bayonets, etc., with bloody results). As the scene ends, we see the point of view of a wounded man as an enemy soldier aims his rifle at his face (and thus the camera) and pulls the trigger.
  • As the Americans make their way toward their landing zone, various explosives go off on the ground and the Americans open fire with machine guns into the trees and brush.
  • Many soldiers are shot and wounded or killed as a massive gun battle breaks out between the opposing sides. Offshore artillery fires into the enemy lines, killing many of their soldiers.
  • More and more people are shot as the battle continues, with grenades also being thrown and wounding or killing others.
  • More shooting and explosions continue in the battle, with opposing forces also hit by Napalm (and are then on fire). Various fighters drop bombs and fire machine guns at the Vietnamese forces, while helicopter gunships also fire missiles that cause explosions and wound or kill others.
  • Meanwhile, enemy forces fire upon the American transport choppers, causing one of them to crash into the ground.
  • American military forces use explosives to blow up and down various trees.
  • An American throws a grenade like device that explodes near his own men, catching one on fire (who then screams in pain/agony from the phosphor burns that another man then attempts to cut out of his face with a knife).
  • More people are shot and wounded or killed, with very bloody results.
  • As Galloway gets a chopper ride to the battlefield, we see all sorts of enemy fire coming at it (we see the tracers in the sky).
  • Am American pushes Crandall who then pulls his handgun and aims it as this man before others intervene.
  • A soldier says he can smell the enemy approaching at night, so someone orders a flare like device to be fired to light up the sky. They then see that they're surrounded by enemy soldiers and thus open fire on them, wounding/killing many of them, and use some grenades to do that as well. We also see some Americans on top of enemy soldiers, repeatedly punching or hitting them with rifles or stabbing them (but we don't see the immediate impact).
  • A great deal of Vietnamese fighters race toward the Americans and are mowed down by gunfire, while mortar fire takes out others.
  • A soldier picks up a wounded comrade, only to be shot in the gut and then the chest, causing him to fall to the ground dead.
  • Moore leads his troops by racing toward the enemy, shooting and stabbing others with bayonets, with a great deal of Vietnamese forces pouring out onto the battlefield.
  • American choppers and fighters open fire on the Vietnamese forces with machine guns and bombs, killing many of them, while the ground forces also continue to shoot and wound/kill enemy soldiers.
  • Many more people are shot and wounded/killed.
  • An enemy soldier rushes toward a group of Americans who don't see him coming with his bayonet leading the way, but Moore turns around at the last moment and shoots the man dead (with bloody results).
  • More people are shot and wounded/killed in another outbreak of gunfire.
  • More napalm and bombs are dropped on the Vietnamese (killing and/or catching them on fire), with some of that also hitting a few Americans who we then see running around on fire and screaming in pain.
  • We see an American soldier who's very burned (half of his face is blackened and very gross looking). When others go to pick him up, we see the charred flesh of his legs slide off in another man's hands.



  • Reviewed February 13, 2002 / Posted March 1, 2002

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