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Courage Under Fire (1996)

A U.S. 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 & 7 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) (14 July 1996)


$59,031,057 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The tanks are British Centurions, with sheet metal added to make them look like M1A1 Abrams tanks; they were shipped from Australia when the U.S. Department of Defense withdrew their cooperation. See more »


When the medivac helicopter has crashed Capt. Walden threatens Monfriez with something like a Section 20 or a Section 26 of the UCMJ for Mutiny. The correct reference for mutiny in the UCMJ is Sub chapter X Section 894 Article 94 MUTINY OR SEDITION. Which most likely would be Referred to as an Article 94 with out the reference to the sub-chapter or section.

Further, after reading article 94 I am not sure that Monfriez would be guilty of Mutiny since he is acting alone.

Aricle 94 MUTINY OR SEDITION Any person subject to this chapter who--

(1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny;

(2) with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or disturbance against that authority is guilty of sedition;

(3) fails to do his utmost to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition being committed in his presence, or fails to take all reasonable means to inform his superior commissioned officer or commanding officer of a mutiny or sedition which he knows or has reason to believe is taking place, is guilty of a failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition.

(b) A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct. See more »


Captain Karen Emma Walden: [to Monfriez, after she's been shot in the abdomen] I gave birth to a nine-pound baby, asshole. I think I can handle it.
See more »


Referenced in Game K N B?: Episode dated 3 March 2007 (2007) See more »


Angel from Montgomery
Written by John Prine
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Stunning performances, great direction, fine story line
13 March 2003 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

Whoa! Some of these reviewers bring so much of gender politics and national politics to their reviews, the movie itself is lost. I wasn't going to add a comment until I found the one that said, "We didn't know what this movie was about, so it's a bad movie; by the way, we wore earplugs all through it."

Come on, folks, get the cotton out and listen up. Matt Damon's ability and willingness to lose forty or fifty pounds in the course of his role is certainly above and beyond the usual call of duty for a supporting actor. His expert embodiment of the fragility and shame of his character foreshadowed his leading-man career to come. Denzel Washington and Lou Diamond Phillips merit the kind words other reviewers have left here, and certainly Meg Ryan deserves none of the harsh ones.

Her performance was perfect, whether portraying the gutsy leader recalled by some narrators or the over-estrogened mess detailed by her bitter gunner. Someone here complained she was "too pretty" -- please! Pretty happens, even in the military. Others here complained her voice was too high, no, too low, no... perhaps it's their expectations of female soldiers that are too high, too low, too wedded to or too opposed to gender stereotypes.

One of the European reviewers here complained that this film was too pro-American and dehumanized the Iraqis. I thought the director was showing that it is a universal tactic to assure yourself of your righteousness by dehumanizing and misrepresenting "the enemy," whether it is the opposing force or a captain you despise for her power over you. Remember, the film begins with a scene showing that the forces are so similar that they are literally indistinguishable -- though that point may not have been intentional on the director's part. Certainly the point is lost as the film goes on to lionize every American life lost while placing only target value on the deaths of opposing soldiers.

This was a war movie that acknowledged cowardice as well as courage, shame as well as gallantry, deadly mistakes as well as brilliant tactics, all in the same arena and sometimes all in the same individual. One movie can only carry so much freight, and perhaps asking every war movie to highlight the pointlessness of war and the excesses of nationalism is asking too much.

Aside from all that, the filmography and special effects were astonishing, both in the war shots (the napalm drop, the tank lines, the helicopters in the cliffs) and in the most dramatic domestic death scene.

This was an excellent movie, with stunning performances, great direction, and a fine story line. But if you're wearing earplugs or blinders, you're going to miss it.

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