Payback/We Were Soldiers
In Payback, a crook named Porter (Mel Gibson) is pulled into a heist by his old friend, Val (Brian De Palma regular Gregg Henry). As they're stealing $130,000 in laundered drug money from Chinese Triads, no one is going to call the police. Everything goes smoothly until Porter's wife, Lynn (Deborah Kara Unger), shoots Porter in the back. After Val had shown Lynn a photo of Porter in the arms of another girl (Maria Bello), the two planned the double-cross together to pay off Val's mob debts so he could return to "The Syndicate." They didn't plan well enough, though, because five months later Porter's back, a complete sociopath who wants his $70,000. Brian Helgeland, the screenwriter for L.A. Confidential and Conspiracy Theory, makes his directing debut with this adaptation of the novel The Hunter by Donald E. Westlake writing under the pseudonym Richard Stark. The same novel served as the basis for John Boorman's Point Blank starring Lee Marvin.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).