We Were Soldiers

Year: 2002
Production Co: Icon
Director: Randall Wallace
Producer: Mel Gibson
Writer: Hal Moore
Cast: Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott, Barry Pepper, Greg Kinnear, Madeleine Stowe, Keri Russell
Did we really need another Vietnam War movie? Born of an obsession with exorcising its demons, the American studio system is ever ready for another angle, and Mel Gibson's talent and production company offers one we've never seen before, and the result is a good movie.

Based on the book by real life Col. Hal Moore, the first man on the ground in America's first decisive battle in Vietnam, the new angle is that the American soldier is a hero for his code, for staying together, staying sane, believing he was doing right, and following a strict moral ethos that Gibson's Moore personifies.

A Christian family man, he loves his men, leads them well and promises he'll be the first one into battle and the last one out. It's a different story from Platoon and its progeny from later stages of the war - where death and madness have taken over and America is fighting itself as much as the NVA.

It also tells the story of the army base wives back home waiting for the dreaded telegrams, and in a first for any American movie, it shows something of the Vietnamese themselves instead of faceless ghosts in the jungle.

It essentially shows more than just 'War is Hell'. The performances and realism are good all round, particularly by Elliott and good husband and father Klein, and war movie fixture Barry Pepper as the photojournalist pops up again. Sometimes feels a bit like Braveheart in Vietnam and flies a few flags as good as any Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster, but tells a story we've never seen before.

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