Courage Under Fire (1996)



Critic Consensus: An emotional and intriguing tale of a military officer who must review the merits of a fallen officer while confronting his own war demons. Effectively depicts the terrors of war as well as its heartbreaking aftermath.

Movie Info

A US Army officer, despondent about a deadly mistake he made, investigates a female chopper commander's worthiness for the Medal of Honor.

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Patrick Duncan, Patrick Sheane Duncan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 5, 2000
Columbia Pictures


as Lt. Col. Nathaniel S...

as Capt. Karen Walden

as Gen. Hershberg

as Ilario

as Altameyer

as Tony Gartner

as Meredith

as Banacek

as Banacek

as Rady

as Boylar

as Patella

as Chelli

as Jenkins

as Drill Team Commander

as Joel Walden

as Geraldine Walden

as Anne Marie Walden

as Nathan Serling Jr.

as Joleen Serling

as Brian Serling

as Josie Serling

as Hillerman

as Drill Team Commander

as Coffee Sergeant

as McQuillan

as Teegarden's Crew Chi...

as Orderly

as The President

as Questioner

as Iraqi Tank Commander

as Laughing Gunner

as Speaker

as Don Boylar

as Louise Boylar

as Delinquent Soldier
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Critic Reviews for Courage Under Fire

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (16)

A carefully conceived, dramatically honorable picture that treats its subject with clarity and intelligence, especially by contemporary standards.

Full Review… | July 22, 2008
Top Critic

As the detective-story flashback structure gets under way, what initially seemed adherence to dramatic and moral cliché becomes more complex and interesting.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Despite its underlying predictability, Courage Under Fire manages warmth, intelligence and a healthy share of surprises.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

I wasn't particularly moved or riveted with suspense.

Full Review… | September 11, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic

A fascinating mystery mixed with war action.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

At the end of Courage Under Fire, you feel torn between admiration and annoyance with the filmmakers, who take an attention-grabbing premise and skillfully develop it into a conclusion that's pure piffle.

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Courage Under Fire


the rashomon technique employed by a great director and a wonderful cast, the film was intriguing and the characters compelling. one of washington and zwicks 3 films together.

danny d

Super Reviewer


An extremely well-told story about honor, loyalty, and doing the right thing even when the wrong way is the easiest. Denzel, like always, gives a great performance as a conflicted, disgraced former captain who carries a heavy load on his shoulders, in addition to trying to validate why a courageous soldier (Meg Ryan) deserves to be awarded the medal of honor posthumously. The different stories that are shown in this movie are incredibly integrated into an emotionally heavy plot which requires a lot from its viewers. Ryan is surprisingly great, you'd think she'd be a total miscast, but she is nothing short of outstanding here. The ending is very fitting, although certainly depressing. An overall great movie, one that deserves to be seen.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

"Now let's kill 'em all."

Edward Zwick, director of top movies like "Glory" and "The Last Samurai", is probably a distant relative to Steven Spielberg. Most of his movies suffer from an overdose of melodrama, and "Courage Under Fire" is a perfect example of that.

I'm not a big fan of these movies that market themselves as war movies but end up being some desk officers chase for the truth. They tend to be quite slowpaced and all of a sudden pumped with aggressive discussions between two sides.

The opening scene must be one of the most stupid war scenes I've ever witnessed. I'll admit, I'm not a specialist of armoured vehicle battle, but I know something about tactics and planning. I hate illogical scenes that try to be something tense and electrifying.

Denzel Washington does a decent portrayal, as always, but Meg Ryan was totally wrongly cast. I've learned to like her in romcoms etc but as an officer very much unconvincing.. Some actors are just typecasted to some specific roles, that's all.

I noticed that I started to enjoy the film much more during the last quarter, or so, as the story finally started to get more compelling. But "Courage Under Fire" doesn't step up enough to be something above average.

Jani H

Super Reviewer

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