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Courage Under Fire (1996)

 -  Drama | Mystery | Thriller  -  12 July 1996 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 31,797 users   Metascore: 77/100
Reviews: 102 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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Title: Courage Under Fire (1996)

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Cast

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Armand Darrius ...
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Bobcat 5 (as Mark Adair-Riós)
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Storyline

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 and award her 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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | Thriller | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 July 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Courage Under Fire  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$46,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

ITL 469,204,000 (Italy) (31 January 1997)

Gross:

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

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Denzel Washington visited with B 1-12 CAV at Fort Hood to prepare for his role LTC Nate Serling. The dip he puts in while giving his OPORD in the opening sequence is a tribute to the time he spent with B 1-12. See more »

Goofs

In the final combat scene where they are getting ready to evacuate, the M16 is fired on full auto. The model of M16 used at the time was the M16A2, which had a three-round burst, but not full auto. See more »

Quotes

[after leading his troops in a prayer]
Nathaniel Serling: Now let's kill 'em all.
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Connections

Referenced in Basic (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Angel from Montgomery
Written by John Prine
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Frequently Asked Questions

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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.

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.


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