DVD REVIEW: “WE WERE SOLDIERS”

Directed by: Randall Wallace (Pearl Harbour, The Man in the Iron Mask).

Starring: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Sam Elliot, Greg Kinnear, Chis Klein.

Plot Outline:In a place soon to be known as The Valley of Death, in a small clearing called landing zone X-Ray, Lt. Colonel Hal Moore (Mel Gibson) and 400 young fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons, all troopers from an elite American combat division, were surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. The ensuing battle was one of the most savage in U.S. history. We Were Soldiers Once…And Young is a tribute to the nobility of those men under fire, their common acts of uncommon valor, and their loyalty to and love for one another.

Review: Of the films that I’ve watched regarding Vietnam, this one is right up there with “The Killing Fields” for emotional impact.  I have to admit that I’m not a huge Randall Wallace fan, generally speaking.  “Pearl Harbour” is ok on first watch, but not a classic, and “The Man in the Iron Mask” was only carried by a reasonably good cast.  That, and the the fact, that his director’s commentaries are the most self serving drivel that you could listen to! But, in fairness to Wallace, he does tell a complicated story well, and from what I’ve read sticks reasonably well to the actual story without over dramatising it.

It is fair to say that this film is very much carried by Mel Gibson’s performance.  He is as immense here as he has ever been on the big screen, “Braveheart” included.  The cinematography by Dean Semler is brilliant to say the least, and right up there with the work that he did on “Apocalypto” in 2006.  Madeleine Stowe is excellent as Julie Moore and, along with the performance  of Kerri Russell, as Barbara Geoghan, really brings home what the wives of the brave soldiers were going through while their men were at war.

Playing Sgt. Major Plumley, Sam Elliot is that quintensential army hardman that all army/war films seem to need e.g. Gny Sgt. Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket”.  It is as good a performance as you are likely to see in this type of role.

Overall, the action sequences are excellent, and the human element that Wallace manages to bring to the film keep the viewer emotionally involved throughout.

And, in this instance I would recommend the directors commentary, as it further opens your eyes to the horrors of what happened in Vietnam, brought to life by this excellent film.

4/5

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~ by knightfall on May 18, 2009.

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