Courage Under Fire

Courage Under Fire

5.0 2
Director: Edward Zwick

Cast: Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Lou Diamond Phillips


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A soldier discovers how elusive the truth can be in this first major film about America's role in the Gulf War. Lt. Col. Nathaniel Serling (Denzel Washington) was the commander of a unit during Operation Desert Storm who mistakenly ordered the destruction of what he believed to be an enemy tank, only to discover that it actually held U.S. soldiers, including a close…  See more details below


A soldier discovers how elusive the truth can be in this first major film about America's role in the Gulf War. Lt. Col. Nathaniel Serling (Denzel Washington) was the commander of a unit during Operation Desert Storm who mistakenly ordered the destruction of what he believed to be an enemy tank, only to discover that it actually held U.S. soldiers, including a close friend. Since then, Serling has been an emotional wreck, drinking heavily and allowing his marriage to teeter on the brink of collapse. As a means of redeeming himself, Serling is given a new assignment by his superior, Gen. Hershberg (Michael Moriarty). Capt. Karen Walden (Meg Ryan) was a helicopter pilot who died in battle during the Iraqi conflict, and the White House has proposed that Walden be posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Serling is asked to investigate Walden's actions on the field of battle, but he quickly discovers that no two stories about her are quite the same; Ilario (Matt Damon) says Walden acted heroically and sacrificed herself to save the others in her company, while Monfriez (Lou Diamond Phillps) claims she was a coward who was attempting to surrender to enemy troops. Meanwhile, reporter Tony Gartner (Scott Glenn) is hounding Serling, trying to get the inside story on Walden and on Serling's own difficulties. Matt Damon lost 40 pounds to prepare for his role in Courage Under Fire, which resulted in a potentially life-threatening illness for the young actor.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Robert Firsching
Meg Ryan pulls off a very difficult role in this Gulf War-set inquiry into the nature of truth. As a nominee for the first posthumous medal of honor to be granted to a woman, Ryan's character is seen in various flashbacks, Rashomon-style, as entirely different people. Denzel Washington is the troubled veteran handling the investigation into whether Ryan's actions deserved the medal, and he talks to several people, each of whom tells a different story about her final actions. Both Ryan and Washington are terrific, ably supported by Michael Moriarty, Scott Glenn, and Matt Damon, among others, and the result is an engrossing and challenging film. The best part is Edward Zwick's deft direction, which keeps all of the differing perspectives open as viable options. Too many times in this sort of film, certain versions of events are presented which couldn't possibly be true. Here, one person could be telling the truth, or everyone could.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Denzel Washington Lt. Col. Nathaniel Serling
Meg Ryan Captain Karen Walden
Lou Diamond Phillips Monfriez
Michael Moriarty Gen. Hershberg
Matt Damon Ilario
Bronson Pinchot Bruno
Seth Gilliam Altameyer
Regina Taylor Meredith Serling
Zeljko Ivanek Banacek
Scott Glenn Tony Gartner
Tim Guinee Rady
Tim Ransom Boylar
Sean Astin Patella
Ned Vaughn Chelli
Ken Jenkins Joel Walden
Kathleen Widdoes Geraldine Walden
Pat Young Drill Team Commander
Jimmy Pickens Soldier
Bruce McGill McQuillan
Michael Dolan Orderly
John Roarke The President
Tom Schanley Questioner
Bob Apisa Iraqi Tank Commander
Albert Hall Speaker
Richard Venture Don Boylar
Diane Baker Louise Boylar
Amy Hathaway Annie
Mark Adair-Rios Bobcat 5
Rory J. Aylward Teegarden's Crew Chief
Julius Carter Rowtero
Armand Darrius Robins
Reed Frerichs Delinquent Soldier
Daniel Gonzalez Laughing Gunner
Lucky Luciano Nathan Serling Jr.
Jamal A. Mays Brian Serling
David McSwain Egan
Kyle Mickaelian Refueler
James Paul Morse Cadre
Erica C. Newman Juleen Serling
Manny Perez Jenkins
Ashlee Jordan Pryor Josie Serling
Matt Sigloch Cadre
Christina Stojanovich Anne Marie Walden
Sean Patrick Thomas Thompson
Jeffrey Waid Hillerman
Jack Watkins Coffee Sergeant
Michole Briana White Maria

Technical Credits
Edward Zwick Director
Pete Antico Stunts
Lon E. Bender Sound/Sound Designer
Willie D. Burton Sound/Sound Designer
John Cenatiempo Stunts
Debra Martin Chase Executive Producer
Mary Colquhoun Casting
Steve Cooper Art Director
Skip Cosper Asst. Director
John Davis Producer
Roger Deakins Cinematographer
Patrick Sheane Duncan Screenwriter
David T. Friendly Producer
Rick T. Gentz Set Decoration/Design
John Graysmark Production Designer
Jim Halty Stunts
James Horner Score Composer,Songwriter,Musical Arrangement
Francine Jamison-Tanchuck Costumes/Costume Designer
Steve Kelso Stunts
Barbara Mesney Set Decoration/Design
Paul Neesan Co-producer
Andrew Neskoromny Set Decoration/Design
Alan Oliney Stunts
Steve Picerni Stunts
Danny Rogers Stunts
Steven Rosenblum Editor
Joseph M. Singer Producer
Randall D. Wilkins Set Decoration/Design
David Zellitti Stunts

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Courage Under Fire 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Movie Review: Courage Under Fire This movie takes place after the Gulf war. Denzel Washington plays an officer in charge of a tank brigade during the war. The unit he commands is involved in a friendly fire accident that kills one of his own men. After the war he tries to take responsibility for his part in the accident, but his superiors won't allow him to. He is assigned to investigate a nomination for the first women considered for the Congressional Medal of Honor for combat. He seems to be having a lot of problems readjusting to family life after the war. There are many subplots in this movie. I really enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to my friends. There are many social implications in this movie, the first one that comes to mind is the way the military covered up the friendly fire accident. I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but I'm sure most people feel that the government is not completely forthcoming in this type of information. Next there is the issue of the medal being awarded to a woman for the first time. I was in the military and to me gender has no bearing on bravery or self sacrifice. If a women earned a medal through their actions, then whether they are the first or the hundredth shouldn't matter. Also in the movie Denzel Washington's character seems to have developed drinking problems and other family problems due to his guilt. Whether or not he is actually guilty of anything or not he is consumed by his guilt and states more than once that he just wants to get this investigation right. It is almost as if he feels he can get rid of his guilt by handling this properly. His character is not really guilty of anything in the accident, although as commander he is responsible. In my mind he actually saved a lot of lives by taking charge and making everyone turn on their lights for identification.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago