We Were Soldiers Reviews
3.5 out of 4 stars
We were soldiers is a movie based on true events as recorded in a book written by Lt. Gen. Hal Moore. It recounts the first major battle of the Vietnam War. It follows Lt. Col. Hal Moore (Mel Gibson)-an extremely smart, family oriented man who loves being a soldier and that is dedicated to his men- through some of the worst fighting in the Vietnam War. This movie, although corny and cliché at some point does paint a good picture of what it might have been like to be there on that day in November 1965 and it doesn't skimp on the gore. If you think that a movie about the Vietnam war should condemn and vilify the war and the soldiers you may not like this movie but if you are a cinephile like me you'll love it and you might notice some similarities to other movies in this genre like The Green Berets or Black Hawk Down.
We were Soldiers takes place during one of the most difficult times in United States history. The country was completely divided over our involvement in the Vietnam War. This movie stays completely away from the politics though. It focuses mainly on the soldiers themselves and their wives. It really brings to light the reality and the horrors of war. It paints a picture of death and destruction and loss on both sides. It doesn't make the enemy out to be evil savages like so many movies before but human beings who lead lives before the war and that left behind wives and children just like Lt. Col. Moore and the soldiers under his command did.
Along with gore and the harshness of the battle front, this movie does a good job in portraying the hardships and the anxiety that the wives of Lt. Col. Moore and his soldiers. Julie Moore (Madeleine Stowe) along with Barbara Geoghegan (Keri Russel) are put in a position where they have to deliver the telegrams to the wives of the soldiers that had been killed in battle which would have been emotionally taxing in its own right.
Director Randall Wallace ( Pearl Harbor) does a great job capturing the physically and emotionally taxing ordeal that these brave men of the seventh cavalry had to go through during those 3 days they were there. Although he did throw in some corny and cliché lines, most of which are spoken by Lt. Col Hal Moore's second in command, Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumely ( Sam Elliot), they didn't take anything away from the overall greatness of this movie. It is a fitting tribute to the men of the seventh cavalry who died that day thousands of miles away from their home and to the many Vietnamese soldiers who did the same.
All in all no matter what your thoughts are about the Vietnam War, this movie is worth the 2 hours you'll put into watching it. You'll come out with more gratefulness and respect to people like Lt. Col. Moore and his men who are so willing to lay down their lives for freedom.
A telling of the 1st Battalion, 7 Cavalry Regiment, 1st Calvary Division's battle against overwhelming odds in the La Drang valley of Vietnam in 1965. Seen through the eyes of the battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson), we see him take command of the battalion and its preparations to go into Vietnam. We also see how the French had, years earlier, been defeated in the same area. The battle was to be the first major engagement between US and NVA forces in Vietnam and showed the use of helicopters as mobility providers and assault support aircraft.
Very gritty battle scenes. Captures well the chaos and confusion of battle, plus the desperation and terror involved when things aren't going well. Mostly accurate, by most accounts, though some minor liberties are taken for dramatic effect.
The problem, however, lies with just about everything else. Dialogue is quite over-the-top, as if just about everybody is played by John Wayne. Many simple passages of dialogue are turned into speeches, and cliche-filled speeches at that.
In keeping with the cheesy dialogue, some pretty heavy-handed, overly gung ho scenes too. Once again, reminded me of a John Wayne movie.
Overall, quite entertaining, just uneven because of the mix of gritty battle scenes and cheesy dialogue and other scenes.
The action is intense and bloody; those squeamish should skip this one. I do appreciate how it remains respectful, yet not at all jingoistic with the American heroes. It also portrays the Vietcong warriors in a respectful manner. Its an unusually classy war movie.