We Were Soldiers

We Were Soldiers

4.4 45
Director: Randall Wallace

Cast: Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott

     
 

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Screenwriter Randall Wallace, a specialist in sweeping historical epics, steps behind the camera for this fact-based Vietnam War drama that reunites him with his Braveheart (1995) star Mel Gibson. Gibson is Lt. Col. Hal Moore, commander of the First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, the same regiment fatefully led by George Armstrong Custer. As part of the PleikuSee more details below

Overview

Screenwriter Randall Wallace, a specialist in sweeping historical epics, steps behind the camera for this fact-based Vietnam War drama that reunites him with his Braveheart (1995) star Mel Gibson. Gibson is Lt. Col. Hal Moore, commander of the First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, the same regiment fatefully led by George Armstrong Custer. As part of the Pleiku Campaign of late 1965, Moore is assigned to an action at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Drang Valley, an area that would come to be known as the "The Valley of Death." Moore soon finds himself and his men contained to an area about the size of a football field, surrounded by more than 2,000 enemy troops and engaged in the first major battle of the war. Heroism becomes the order of the day as men like Moore, chopper pilot Bruce Crandall (Greg Kinnear), and Lt. Henry Herrick (Marc Blucas) refuse to yield, in spite of heavy losses of life. The film co-stars Madeleine Stowe, Chris Klein, Keri Russell, and Sam Elliott. We Were Soldiers is based on the book We Were Soldiers Once...and Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (retired) and UPI reporter Joe Galloway (played in the film by Barry Pepper).

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
An unapologetically patriotic movie that found post-9/11 audiences receptive, We Were Soldiers revisits American involvement in Vietnam and focuses on one particularly harrowing engagement. Based on the memoir by retired army officer Harold G. Moore and war correspondent Joseph Galloway, this engrossing, highly emotional film re-creates the 1965 battle that pitted the airborne division of the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry against deeply entrenched Vietnamese in an unpopulated area that became known as "the valley of death." Mel Gibson portrays Moore as a dedicated career officer with a paternal devotion to the men under his command. Ferried by helicopter to the battle zone, Moore, grizzled Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley (an amusingly deadpan Sam Elliott), and his inexperienced young soldiers attempt to seize disputed ground but are immediately besieged by all-but-invisible enemy troops. Randall Wallace, who previously collaborated with Gibson on Braveheart, makes his initial foray into screen directing with no hint of uncertainty; his staging of the siege, while hewing closely to the historical record, is fiercely visceral and almost unendurably suspenseful. He’s equally facile in dramatizing the tension and anguish felt by the soldiers’ wives, waiting at their Stateside homes for news but dreading its arrival. Madeleine Stowe is appropriately stoic as Moore’s capable mate, who takes it upon herself to personally notify the camp spouses of their husbands’ deaths in battle. Chris Klein shows his mature side as a promising young officer who serves with distinction in his first major campaign, and Barry Pepper registers strongly as Galloway, a war correspondent overwhelmed by the carnage. Greg Kinnear delivers what may be his finest performance to date as the tireless helicopter pilot who shuttles dead and wounded soldiers from the battleground back to the base. Wallace depicts Moore and his men with an admiration bordering on reverence, but he also portrays the Vietnamese with respect and dignity. He refrains from editorializing about the U.S. role in the conflict, choosing instead to dramatize the American soldiers’ loyalty to each other. A moving testament to the futility -- and absurdity -- of war, We Were Soldiers pays tribute to those who fight so gallantly and sacrifice so much. On the DVD, Wallace provides commentary for both the full-length film and ten deleted scenes; he also appears in a behind-the-scenes featurette, "Getting It Right."
All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
This unabashedly patriotic, flag-waving war film nevertheless manages to avoid jingoism and present a more-balanced-than-normal view of war by delving into the mind of the enemy and depicting the struggles of wives left behind at home. Screenwriter-turned-director Randall Wallace doesn't always manage to overcome the obviousness and tendency to oversimplify that are his long-running weaknesses, and the humans driving his story should remain a bit more front-and-center than they do once the shooting starts, but he's unarguably adept at mounting complicated, large-scale battle scenes and rendering the confusing action understandable. He also displays a sure hand with his cast, particularly Mel Gibson, who does a laudable job in a stoic, heartbroken role that forbids many of the actor's usual gimmicks and goofy mannerisms. If only there was more of him; once the battle begins, the picture zooms and whip-pans from one character to the next, making it arduous for an audience trying to pin its emotional identification to any one particular person or group. Nevertheless, conveying a tangible, even tactile sense of war's brutal, grim reality has been one of the hallmarks of war films in the late '90s and early 2000s, and in this regard, Wallace's epic is no exception, depicting with shocking persuasiveness the carnage of war (a scene where a young soldier is horribly burned to the point of melting is particularly tough to watch). While it ends up in a place that's somewhat emotionally flat by the time the battle is over, We Were Soldiers is a thorough, competent, and well-produced chronicle of the Vietnam conflict's first major combat.
New York Times - A.O. Scott
Like the best war movies -- and like martial literature going back to the Iliad -- it balances the dreadful, unassuageable cruelty of warfare and the valor and decency of those who fight.
Boston Globe
As in Black Hawk Down, the combat sequences are filmed with great skill and pulse-pounding immediacy. Jay Carr
San Francisco Chronicle
...one of the best war movies of the past 20 years. Mick LaSalle
USA Today
...the first film in recent memory that a major studio has chosen to release early in the year with palpable filmmaking passion and production heft. Mike Clark

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/01/2013
UPC:
0883929301195
Original Release:
2002
Source:
Paramount Catalog
Sales rank:
7,939

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Mel Gibson Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore
Sam Elliott SGM Basil Plumley
Keri Russell Barbara Geoghegan
Erik MacArthur Spec. 4 Russell Adams
Clark Gregg Actor
Denis Leary Actor
Barry Pepper Joseph L. Galloway
Marc Blucas Actor
Jon Hamm Actor
Desmond Harrington Actor
Ryan Hurst Actor
Taylor Momsen Actor
Dylan Walsh Actor
Don Duong Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An
Robert Bagnell 1st Lt. Charlie Hastings
Josh Daugherty Spec. 4 Bob Ouellette
Jsu Garcia Capt. Tony Nadal
Blake Heron Spec. 4 Galen Bungum

Technical Credits
Randall Wallace Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Lon Bender Sound/Sound Designer
Michael T. Boyd Costumes/Costume Designer
Tim Cooney Sound/Sound Designer
Bruce Davey Producer
Digital Domain Animator,Special Effects
Eveleen Anne Bandy Associate Producer
Cathy Sandrich Gelfond Casting
Nick Glennie-Smith Score Composer
William Hoy Associate Producer,Editor
Kevin Kavanaugh Art Director
Jim Lemley Executive Producer
Danielle Lemmon Co-producer
Amanda Mackey-Johnson Casting
Naaman Marshall Set Decoration/Design
Stephen McEveety Producer
Nilo Otero Art Director
Jason Powell Consultant/advisor
Mario Roberts Stunts
Richard Romig Set Decoration/Design
Geoffrey G. Rubay Sound/Sound Designer
Tom Sanders Production Designer
Arne Schmidt Executive Producer
Dean Semler Cinematographer
Mark Stoeckinger Sound/Sound Designer
James F. Truesdale Art Director
Kim Winther Art Director
Stephen Zapotoczny Co-producer

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