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>
U.S. Army Medivac Choppers marked with the Red Cross, are
covered by the Geneva Convention, thereby allowing the aircrew to only carry personal weapons. So no M-16's or M-60 machine guns would have been allowed on "Dust off 3". The Red Cross marks the copter a non-combatant, medical vehicle. This would make it a war-crime for enemies to fire upon it. However, for Meg Ryan's character to take her Red Cross marked copter in to attack enemies would be considered a "perfidious act" -- a very serious war crime. See more »
[holding a pistol to Serling's head]
You ever kill anyone at close range with a small arms, sir?
[Serling shakes his head]
See more »
Soldiers do terrible things (in all senses of that word), nominally in the name of all of us. If one soldier, who has not committed any atrocities, dies in combat but is given a technically undeserved honour, does it really matter? In Edward Zwick's curious film, 'Courage Under Fire', we have to believe it does, as Denzel Washington's Colonel investigates whether an award should be given to Meg Ryan's deceased pilot after the first Gulf war. It's all rather dull, and although he eventually (and predictably) unearths a shocking truth, there's little in his early inquiries to suggest such an outcome. The plot justification for the importance Washington's character gives to his enquiry is meant to be personal, he himself has had a tough war and is now teetering on the brink of alcoholism, though this itself is odd as while the rest of the cast all notice this constantly, we virtually never see him drunk (or indeed, taking more than a single drink at a sitting). The incident he is investigating is also peculiar, Ryan's character commands no natural authority but even then the reaction of her troops seems strange. Another contradiction is the way the film appears to want to honour the military, beginning with textbook action scenes and ending with sentimental reverence, in spite of the fact that the soldiers we see in action are all, frankly, pretty bad at their jobs. But a conspiracy thriller needs a bad guy, so top brass is attacked, for the "crime" of wanting to make good PR out of an apparently heroic story, while the troops on the ground are applauded for their incompetence and forgiven their errors. It all makes for a film with a very funny shape, which shows the failings of soldiers but passes up the opportunity to comment on the dehumanising nature of war in favour of commenting on the dehumanising nature of sitting in an office. Far less profound than it thinks.
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