"They went to war because their country ordered them to, but in the end they fought not for country or their flag, they fought for each other."
You wanna know why I watched this film in the first place, 7 years ago? Because of the helicopters. Not because of Mel Gibson or the genre, I do like war films like any other guy, but only because of the choppers. Sadly Mel Gibson is babbling about patriotic and heroicly foolish things almost constantly, but where's my goddamn choppers! I thought this movie was supposed to be about how the US Army started to customize and use MedEvac choppers for infantry transports to hot zones, but all it is, is just another movie that tries too much to be powerful and moving.
Considering that Randall Wallace, who wrote 'Pearl Harbor' a year earlier, was involved with the film should've had me on alert status. But he has also written 'Braveheart', which is one of my all-time favourites so I had to give it a shot. So now we have, as examples. one great film and one of the worst films ever made. Were does 'We Were Soldiers' belong?
"I'll never forgive myself.
- For what, sir?
That my men... That my men died and I didn't."
After all the basic training in the movie has been given and the troops are transported to "The Valley of Death" for combat, the film does give some nice battle scenes. Especially the napalm scene where the flesh of the bodies is being ripped off when the medics try to evacuate them. Gory as hell and, yes... effective. The battle scenes are almost too frantic for my taste. Some of the soldiers seem to have some kind of supersenses, they always know where the enemies are and shoot highly accurate shots when they're under pressure and when visibility is nonexistent. Guess the US Army's training is much more on a higher level then other nations armies...
The acting is.. well, highly overrated. Mel Gibson, in my opinion, does one of his worst performances I've seen and Sam Elliott, as the obligatory NCO, non-commissioned officer, is grunting through the whole movie and showing these rookies how to fight. With a pistol. You see, he doesn't believe in assault rifles... And talking about obligatory characters, there has to be a proper, heroic young officer, like Chris Klein's character, who has a beautiful wife and a child on the way to bring drama to the movie.
So, where does 'We Were Soldiers' belong? It's highly patriotic and religious, with lots of dramatic scenes that tend to go a bit over the top, some nifty battle scenes but to be honest, films like these are in the end very mediocre and instantly forgettable. There's so much better Vietnam movies available ('Platoon') so if you tend to get sick watching melodramatic war movies where God is a greater support to troops then the artillery or the Air Force, you might wanna skip this one.