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>
In some of the background scenes in the training camp, cadets from Texas A&M University were used as extras. See more »
The crew that Capt. Walden is there to rescue is referred to as a Blackhawk crew. However, the downed aircraft that the crew are around is not a Blackhawk, but instead a Huey. See more »
[grabbing a recruit leaving an obstacle]
Just what the fuck do you think you're doing, soldier? Where are your men?
Right there, sir!
Yeah? What do you call that?
[gestures to one man who still hasn't made it through the obstacle]
You see that man? You and he are brothers! He depends on you! You depend on him! You *never* leave a man behind!
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Profound, intelligent, and moving; one of Zwick's best...
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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