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Courage Under Fire (1996)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 53
Fresh: 45 | Rotten: 8

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.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 1

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.



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Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 46,242

My Rating

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.



Patrick Duncan

Dec 5, 2000

Columbia Pictures

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All Critics (53) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (8) | DVD (19)

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

July 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I wasn't particularly moved or riveted with suspense.

September 11, 2002 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fascinating mystery mixed with war action.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop 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.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Military drama deploys plenty of violence, swearing.

September 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Denzel Washington gives as fine a performance as I have seen him give.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

A provocative film with Oscar caliber performances. (published 7-19-96)

December 28, 2004 Full Review
Kansas City Kansan

Denzel Washington reinforces his image as a serious leading man who dominates a film with his quiet intensity and aura of introspection.

June 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

Underrated war flick with a surprisingly effective performance by Meg Ryan

April 2, 2004
Lawrence Journal-World

When [Washington's] long pent-up emotions finally break through the surface, the result is at once exhilarating and heartbreaking.

January 2, 2004 Full Review Source:

Excellent military mystery. Rashomon style point of view play.

August 11, 2003

Washington's inherent gravity anchors his troubled and troublesome character, and Ryan, whom we'd all but written off as a perpetual pom-pom girl, takes on an atypical role and acquits herself, well, honorably.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

For Meg Ryan this was opportunity to shed her image of romantic comedies queen and play some serious role for a change.

April 16, 2003 Full Review

a confused Gulf War flick adopting the structure of "Rashomon," the sentimentality of "Love Story," and the souls of Hollywood hacks.

March 2, 2003 Full Review
Critics Inc./America Online

Predictable, yet eminently watchable.

February 3, 2003
New Times

Bold and visionary movie that dare to make the pursuit of truth into a spiritual quest.

August 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

The sharp-edged script by Patrick Sheane Duncan offers a challenging structure, ala Rashamon, to examine issues of courage and truth, but unfortunately the story is never fully realized.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

I heartily recommend it, especially for the great performances by Matt Damon, in his first major role, and Lou Diamond Phillips.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

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.
February 22, 2011
danny d

Super Reviewer

Not brilliant. A good cast but no great performances.
September 24, 2009

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.
September 23, 2009
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.
April 1, 2009

Super Reviewer

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