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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
When released in Spain the movie title was literally translated resulting in "Reglas de compromiso". Engagement in English can be translated like in the original title as the behavior when two opposing forces come into contact or as near future wedding. Spanish language however uses different words for these two concepts, and the one referring to "wedding" was mistakenly used is the Spanish title creating a misleading title with no relation to the actual movie plot. See more »
When you see Col. Hodges and Col. Childers, it is obviously night, however one of the shots in the quick cuts shows a window with daylight. See more »
"Rules of Engagement" from 2000 is a fairly derivative film. Directed by William Friedkin, it's the story of two men, Colonel Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson), a 30-year Marine veteran and decorated officer; and Colonel Hayes Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones), now an attorney, a man with whom he fought and whose life he saved in Vietnam and has retired.
Childers is sent on a rescue mission in Yemen that goes awry when the protesting crowd outside the embassy starts shooting at the Marines. Childers, who already has men down, orders his soldiers to fire into the crowd. He is able to evacuate the embassy but finds himself in trouble due to the fact that no one believes the protesters had weapons. He is put on trial and asks Hodges to defend him. Hodges doesn't feel he's a good enough attorney, but he agrees to take the case.
There is a tape of what happened, but the head of security (Bruce Greenwood) who doesn't want the United States to take the rap for killing civilians and would rather have it fall on a soldier, burns it. And Childers gets no support from the Ambassador (Ben Kingsley) or his wife (Anne Archer), and the attorney on the other side (Guy Pearce) is out for blood.
We've seen this film in various guises before, and the good versus evil is typical Hollywood. The acting is good but I have difficulty understanding the casting of Ben Kingsley, a great Oscar-winning actor, who is completely wasted in what is not even really a supporting role. Anne Archer plays his wife. The two have a small son and have been married for ten years. May I suggest that though it's entirely feasible that Archer at 43 had a child, the casting seems a little off. Often, when directors want a certain actor, the agency representing them agrees on the condition that the director take other people on his roster. I suspect this is what happened here; the casting is not quite right for these distinguished actors.
Tommy Lee Jones in particular is good as Hodges, though he has the showier role. Samuel Jackson is always very good and gives a strong performance as well, but there's something very stereotypical about both parts. Bruce Greenwood at least is interesting casting - he seems pretty mild-mannered as the Head of Security, but there's a treachery underneath.
All in all, this is an okay film, one where you know how it's going to end and basically what's going to happen while it's going on. We see two stars who have done their roles before in other circumstances. So in the end, while it has its moments, it's somewhat routine. One of those if you've seen one, you've seen them all type films.
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