108 user 66 critic

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


In wartime, the first casualty is always 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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In some of the background scenes in the training camp, cadets from Texas A&M University were used as extras. See more »


During the last walk through of the events in Iraq, Walden cocks her M9 while pointing it at Monfriez. When she does so, it is obvious that the M9 is mounted on something below, just out of camera shot. See more »


Joel Walden: [to LTC Serling, after Anne Marie saw him and ran away] Men dressed as you are came to the door to tell her her mother had died.
See more »


Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) 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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