A Navy navigator is shot down over enemy territory and is ruthlessly pursued by a secret police enforcer and the opposing troops. Meanwhile his commanding officer goes against orders in an attempt to rescue him.
Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.
CIA analyst Jack Ryan must thwart the plans of a terrorist faction that threatens to induce a catastrophic conflict between the United States and Russia's newly elected president by detonating a nuclear weapon at a football game in Baltimore.
Phil Alden Robinson
Hayes Hodges finds his career aspirations dashed when he's wounded in Vietnam combat. He then returns to America and becomes a disillusioned lawyer who goes up against the service to defend Colonel Terry Childers, who is accused of inciting an incident that leaves many demonstrators dead. Hodges in no position to decline: Childers heroically saved his life back in Vietnam. Written by
The USS Wake Island LHA-7 is fictional and not an actual US Navy ship. The ship seen in the movie is actually the USS Tarawa LHA-1. See more »
During the courtroom scenes the bruises on Col. Childers' face from his fight with Col. Hodges move around. For example, when the verdict is read Col. Childers has a crescent shaped bruise under his eye and a cut or split in his lip. However, when he emerges from the courtroom following the verdict, the crescent shaped bruise is gone and there is no noticeable injury to his lip. See more »
Colonel Hayes Hodges:
I'll make you a deal. If you can tell me right now what the life expectancy was for second lieutenant dropped into a hot LZ in Vietnam in 1968, I'll tell you everything I remember about Ca Lu.
Major Mark Biggs:
Colonel Hayes Hodges:
Negative. Sixteen minutes. Sixteen fucking minutes. That's all I remember about Ca Lu.
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Rules of Engagement fits comfortably into that genre of military film in which the motivations inherant in the human character are subverted for the motivates of the The United States Marines. Assinine personal decisions can just be tossed off as being part of The Code. Unlike A Few Good Men, still the best of its kind, Rules of Engagement falls flat because even as none of the character actions make sense, nothing is surprising either, and that is the biggest sin of all.
This is all unfortunate, since Rules of Engagement was made by a lot of people who should know better. Or who at least once knew better. The recent rerelease of The Exorcist and a repeat viewing of The French Connection contrasted with this film can only lead viewer to a simple conclusion: At one point William Friedkin was a master of his craft, knowing how to tell a compelling story with a unique visual style. He can't do that anymore. It's shocking just how dull the early scenes in Vietnam and Yemen feel. There's no tension and at a certain point you just want the characters to move on. Friedkin isn't helped by the fact that usually reliable cinematographer William Fraker (a five-time Oscar nominee) has given the film a murky look, often mislighting actors, unless the purpose was to make everybody look bruised.
When all is said and done, only Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson are given fully developed characters. Even though they're often forced to say stupid things (Out of nowhere Jackson has an overly expositional insult about Jones's alcoholism, a problem that hadn't been mentioned previously and was never relevant afterwards), these actors are always reliable. The film's other interesting performance come from Guy Pearce, whose American accent is frequently preposterous, but unlike LA Confidential (where Pearce gave a fuller overall performance), the accent remains mostly consistant throughout.
The film's other actors are stranded without resolutions for their characters. Ben Kingsley and Anne Archer, as the weak Yemeni ambassador and his wife, are left stranded. Ditto Bruce Greenwood (so consistantly excellent as wounded heroes in Atom Egoyan films, and so badly wasted as one dimensional heavies in American movies), whose narrative arc involving a videotape is woefully without payoff.
In the end, Rules of the Game offers nothing new, and nothing surprising. The solid acting by the leads fits into this rubric of normality, but as does the absolute apathy the film produces.
I give it a 4/10.
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