107 user 65 critic

Courage Under Fire (1996)

2:22 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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


9 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Siege (1998)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The secret US abduction of a suspected terrorist leads to a wave of terrorist attacks in New York that lead to the declaration of martial law.

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Annette Bening
Crimson Tide (1995)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

On a US nuclear missile sub, a young first officer stages a mutiny to prevent his trigger happy captain from launching his missiles before confirming his orders to do so.

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, Matt Craven
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A law student uncovers a conspiracy, putting herself and others in danger.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Sam Shepard
Out of Time I (2003)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A Florida police chief must solve a vicious double homicide before he himself falls under suspicion.

Director: Carl Franklin
Stars: Denzel Washington, Sanaa Lathan, Eva Mendes
Fallen (1998)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Homicide detective John Hobbes witnesses the execution of serial killer Edgar Reese. Soon after the execution the killings start again, and they are very similar to Reese's style.

Director: Gregory Hoblit
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A quadriplegic ex-homicide detective and his female partner try to track down a serial killer who is terrorizing New York City.

Director: Phillip Noyce
Stars: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In the midst of the Gulf War, soldiers are kidnapped and brainwashed for sinister purposes.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep
John Q (2002)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

John Quincy Archibald takes a hospital emergency room hostage when his insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant.

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Gabriela Oltean
Glory (1989)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Robert Gould Shaw leads the US Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates.

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes
The Hurricane (1999)
Biography | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.

Director: Norman Jewison
Stars: Denzel Washington, Vicellous Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Antwone Fisher, a young navy man, is forced to see a psychiatrist after a violent outburst against a fellow crewman. During the course of treatment a painful past is revealed and a new hope begins.

Director: Denzel Washington
Stars: Denzel Washington, Derek Luke, Joy Bryant
Unstoppable (2010)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

With an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train barreling toward a city, a veteran engineer and a young conductor race against the clock to prevent a catastrophe.

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson


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)


$58,918,501 (USA) (25 October 1996)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The White House rose garden set was destroyed twice: once by a tornado, and once by a sandstorm. See more »


After Walden's helicopter crashes, Ilario is tending to Rady who is injured and unconscious. When Ilario ask's Walden for a hook to hang the IV bag, Rady, still unconscious, opens his eyes for a second, then closes them. See more »


Tony Gartner, Washington Post: General, Colonel Sterling's order to activate lights, was that a standard response to enemy infiltration of the lines?
General Hershberg: At the critical moment, in spite of terrible losses, Colonel Sterling didn't hesitate to act. Ordering those tanks to turn on their lights saved the lives of God knows how many of our men. Heroic acts arise out of desperate circumstances.
Tony Gartner, Washington Post: I have no trouble at all believing Colonel Sterling is a hero.
General Hershberg: Like Captain Karen Walden. Did you know, Mr Gartner, that for the first time a...
See more »


Featured in Angel: Tomorrow (2002) See more »


Angel from Montgomery
Written by John Prine
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Worth Watching
27 July 2003 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

The story is a simple one. Washington is a Lt. Colonel responsible for some accidental deaths during a tank battle in the Gulf War. The experience leaves him feeling pretty lousy. He neglects his family and begins drinking. He's assigned to investigate the suitability of Meg Ryan as a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. She was flying a medevac helicopter to a crash site when her aircraft was shot down by small arms fire and, apparently, she stayed behind voluntarily and ordered her crew to save themselves while she covered them. Washington interviews the crew members and gets different stories. In one story Ryan behaves heroically as described. In a second, she is a coward and collapses under fire. In yet a third, the truth emerges. Yeah, it's Rashomon, but not as original or subtle.

Still it's pretty good. And, Gott sei dank, it is not a story in which a woman proves herself as a good as a man, despite the fact that she is a member of the weaker sex. (What condescension.) Meg Ryan is a capable and courageous officer who happens to be a woman. Her sex is important to the politicians who are positively drooling over the prospect of awarding her the decoration, but isn't really important to the narrative.

The performances are better than I'd expected. Everyone, in fact, is quite good in their different ways. Matt Damon, in particular, gives a sensitive performance as a guilt-ridden medic, and looks the part, somewhat ascetic, his facial features askew with uncertainty. Meg Ryan doesn't have a chance to do more than shout orders with a Texas accent but she registers pain and determination well. Lou Diamond Phillips is perhaps the least articulated character, but that may be the fault of the role as written, which is fairly complex but a little obvious. Denzel Washington is the central figure. He's good as carrying that burden of guilt left over from his battlefield mistake but isn't too convincing as a drunk. In the end, he relieves himself of some of that torture by visiting the parents of one of the men he had killed and confessing his part in the incident. The first few times I saw this I kept thinking what some other actors would have done with this scene, but the last time I found his incarnate remorse rather moving.

There is one scene delicately shot, an uneasy exchange between the lying Damon and the perceptive Washington that's beautifully staged and acted, and another memorable first encounter between Washington and Phillips, in which both actors probe the edges of insubordination. Michael Dolan stands out in a featured bit part as a hospital orderly.

The battle scenes are well done, although a little confusing, as I'm sure they would have been at the time. Some generic conventions are adhered to. Four of our guys can slaughter dozens of them. The enemy runs headlong into a hail of bullets. But there are some interesting twists given to the situation. The Iraqis on the other side of the hill can be heard laughing at our boys (and our woman). And the ending is revisionist, but I won't go into it. Justice outs, let's say that.

It's a worthwhile watch for any number of reasons. Craftsmanlike if not poetic.

37 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
If Monfriez hadn't yelled 'She's dead!' zumbinis-1
Why is this movie rated so low makeshiftcar
Not a single Oscar nomination. dparm
Dont understand the part of tanks turning off the lights? ken5088us
Question about the m16... littleJaro
Monfriez forms-1
Discuss Courage Under Fire (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page