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Courage Under Fire (1996)

R  |   |  Action, Drama, Mystery  |  12 July 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 37,450 users   Metascore: 77/100
Reviews: 107 user | 65 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

A US Army officer, despondent about a deadly mistake he made, investigates a female chopper commander's worthiness for the Medal of Honor.


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9 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Armand Darrius ...
Bobcat 5 (as Mark Adair-Riós)


The pilot of a rescue copter, Captain Karen Walden, died shortly before her helicopter crew was rescued after it crashed in Desert Storm. It first appears that she made a spectacular rescue of a downed helicopter crew, then held her own crew together to fight off the Iraqis after her copter crashed. Lt. Colonel Serling, who is struggling with his own demons from Desert Storm, is assigned to investigate her worthiness for the Medal of Honor. But some conflicting accounts, from her crew and soldiers in the area, cause him to question whether she deserves it. Written by Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A medal for honor. A search for justice. A battle for truth. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for war violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

12 July 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mut zur Wahrheit  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$46,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$12,501,000 (USA) (12 July 1996)


ITL 1,070,954,000 (Italy) (14 February 1997)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Matt Damon lost 40 pounds for his role in the movie. See more »


Airforce A-10 aircraft are seen dropping napalm. Only the Marines dropped napalm in the first gulf war from AV-8B aircraft. See more »


Monfriez: Sir, if you get a hangfire on your weapon, what do you do? You wait, with your weapon pointed in a safe direction, 'cause sometimes the primer bursts, and if you open the chamber it blows up in your face. Leave this round in the chamber, sir.
See more »


References Rashomon (1950) See more »


Angel from Montgomery
Written by John Prine
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Profound, intelligent, and moving; one of Zwick's best...
6 November 2008 | by (Trinidad and Tobago) – See all my reviews

Edward Zwick's second war-based movie (following the successful GLORY) is almost as good as his first, and every bit as watchable. I have particularly liked stories that use different viewpoints to tell the same story (hence creating different versions of the same story). These types of movies stemmed no doubt from Akira Kurosawa's epic RASHOMON, and while films that use this strategy rarely live up to Kurosawa's original in terms of intelligence and portrayal (the most recent being the slightly-better-than-mediocre VANTAGE POINT), COURAGE UNDER FIRE is still a rewarding Motion Picture.

Denzel Washington is near his brilliant best as the troubled Lieutenant Colonel on the verge of alcoholism due in part to his overwhelming feelings of guilt following a military procedure gone wrong. His depression and curiosity fuel his determination to get to the bottom of the 'mystery' even if it puts him out of favour with his Commanding Officers. Meg Ryan is equally superb, and as each re-telling of the story demands her to take on a different personality (similar to the female lead in RASHOMON), she manages to pull each one off effectively. Matt Damon puts in a reliable shift, even losing upward of 20 pounds to take on the role. For me, the biggest surprise is Lou Diamond Phillips who is actually quite watchable, and does not overact, as is his tendency.

Zwick's COURAGE UNDER FIRE is an examination of war from a less visceral point of view, and will stay with the viewer long after watching the movie. It deeply delves into themes of responsibility, guilt, and truth in an overall compelling Motion Picture. The script is effective and the buildup to the somewhat sentimental ending is quite commendable.

8/10. 3.5 stars (out of 4). Highly recommended. Should enter my Top 200 at around #183.

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