We Were Soldiers
March 1, 2002
This Vietnam War film stars Mel Gibson as Lieutenant Colonel Harold Moore and Barry Pepper as reporter Joseph Galloway. A strong supporting cast including Madeleine Stowe, Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear, Chris Klein, and Keri Russell joins them.
The film is based on real-life events chronicled in the book written by Messrs. Moore and Galloway. The battle portrayed in this film took place in October and November of 1965. It was the first major land battle of the war and involved 450 U.S. soldiers. Once they were flown into their landing zone, they were quickly outnumbered and surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army soldiers.
We follow this intense battle from several viewpoints. Of course we see the intense battle from the ground troops led by Moore (Gibson). But we also get to see the heroic efforts of helicopter pilots like Major Bruce Crandall (Kinnear) who risked their lives and aircraft to bring troops and supplies in and take the dead and wounded out. Third, we see the struggles of the families left at home while the men go off to battle. Moore's wife (Stowe) becomes the leader of the spouses while her husband leads the troops in the field.
Information coming out of filming seems to indicate that this will be a very intense film, showing all of the tension and fear the soldiers experienced. As has been the case in most recent war movies, we should also see some graphic and elaborate battle scenes. (Marty Doskins/BOP)
February 27, 2002
Other than having a most awkward title, We Were Soldiers has all the ingredients of a box office hit. When one thinks of three-word-titled, based-on-a true-story, gritty war movies with big talent attached the first two that spring immediately to mind are Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down. Both of these highly successful films showed American heroism and patriotism at its best while presenting a difficult story in a very challenging way. We Were Soldiers seems to fit that mold except it has a bit more of a shine.
For one thing, We Were Soldiers seems to have more of a connection back to civilian life and there is emphasis placed on the personal lives of some of the soldiers. Even visually, second-time director Randall Wallace has gone with a bright clear look, a decidedly different approach than the other two comparative films. While Black Hawk and private Ryan pushed the grittiness and realism of their stories, We Were Soldiers is heavily pushing the patriotism buttons and is going for the sentimental angle.
Like most Mel Gibson movies of late, family is a heavy theme that is explored throughout the film. Gibson again plays the role of a U.S. Soldier fighting for his land; his second such role in 20 months after The Patriot in July of 2002.. Gibson and Wallace previously worked together on Braveheart; however, it is Wallace directing from his script and not Gibson behind the camera this time around.
Gibson's name carries a lot of weight at the box office. If we look at his most recent movies we can see that, in the last six years, the only two that failed to open to $20 million were Conspiracy Theory and Chicken Run; the former grossing just under the mark at $19.3 million. This is easily one of the most impressive runs around, and puts Gibson in the elite company of stars such as Julia Roberts, Ton Hanks and Tom Cruise. So we can safely assume that Gibson will bring people in and puts butts in seats as he always does.
Gibson is certainly this film's greatest asset and the previously mentioned shine in which the film is presented will be its greatest weakness. Regardless of the times we are living in, pushing the patriotism angle seems inefficient. It is really difficult to sell a war movie and the most success is seen when the realism and grit angle is played along with promises of heavy action. Action usually means tension and ultimately a large emotional payoff while sappy emotional manipulation gives the impression of boredom and sadness with no thrill of a show. Ultimately, people see movies to be wowed and entertained, while being moved is only a secondary necessity.
Because of the way it has been marketed I think it will be difficult for We Were Soldiers to duplicate the success of Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan. It has nowhere near the same buzz nor is it as appealing as either of the other films. It does, on the other hand, have Mel Gibson and it is nevertheless a war movie so it should still do reasonably well. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
Comparison films for We Were Soldiers
|Black Hawk Down
|Saving Private Ryan
|Behind Enemy Lines
|Enemy at the Gates
|Thin Red Line, The