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Rules of Engagement (2000)

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An attorney defends an officer on trial for ordering his troops to fire on civilians after they stormed a U.S. embassy in a third world country.

Director:

William Friedkin

Writers:

Jim Webb (story) (as James Webb), Stephen Gaghan (screenplay)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy Lee Jones ... Colonel Hayes Hodges
Samuel L. Jackson ... Colonel Terry Childers
Guy Pearce ... Major Biggs
Ben Kingsley ... Mourain
Bruce Greenwood ... Sokal
Anne Archer ... Mrs. Mourain
Blair Underwood ... Captain Lee
Philip Baker Hall ... General H. Lawrence Hodges
Dale Dye ... General Perry
Amidou ... Doctor Ahmar
Mark Feuerstein ... Tom Chandler
Richard McGonagle ... Judge
Baoan Coleman Baoan Coleman ... Colonel Cao
Nicky Katt ... Hayes Hodges III
Ryan Hurst ... Corporal Hustings
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Storyline

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 Ronos

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A hero should never have to stand alone.

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Germany | Canada | USA

Language:

English | Arabic

Release Date:

7 April 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Reglas de combate See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,011,181, 9 April 2000, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$61,335,230

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$71,732,303
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In Bill Sokal's (Bruce Greenwood's) office, a painting portrait of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy can be seen. Greenwood played John F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days (2000). See more »

Goofs

Several strange things about the inability of anyone to testify that the crowd was armed and hostile. First, Colonel Childers' initial orders were to engage hostile targets, to which Red Six replied that there were women and children in the line-of-fire (tacitly admitting that there were hostile targets). Childers' reply was to question whether or not Red Six heard the order. Red Six requests clarification, asking if he is to fire into the crowd, and Childers replies "Yes, Goddamn it!" This exchange was taped and used in the trial. The problem is that Red Six is the one who first mentions the crowd, in direct response to Childers' order to engage hostile targets. By inference, he stated that there were hostile targets in the crowd. See more »

Quotes

Colonel Hayes Hodges: If this gets bad, it gets bad for both of us.
Colonel Terry L. Childers: Why, Hodge? Are you going to jail too?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Some international prints, made for DVD/TV broadcast, have removed the Paramount logo and fade straight into the Seven Arts Pictures logo. The opening titles also now read "Seven Arts Pictures Present in association with Paramount Pictures". This is due to the fact that Seven Arts owned the international rights and wanted prime credit. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Red Green Show: Rules of Engagement (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

On the Threshold of Liberty
by Mark Isham
Contains a sample performed by Mark Isham
Courtesy of The Windham Hill Group
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting but too simplistic and lacking in courtroom sparks
14 November 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Years have past since Col Hodges and Col Childers were comrades in combat. Hodges is now retired while Childers is still on active service in the Middle East. When he is called in to help protect and evacuate the US Embassy in the middle of a riot, Childers orders his men to return fire despite not having any definite targets. With a crowd of 80 dead, many women and children, the authorities are forced to go after Childers to have someone to blame. Childers turns to his old friend to help defend him.

With a pair of real heavyweights in lead roles I was quite looking forward to this film. It is quite easy to get into the film as the opening 40 minutes are pretty exciting and shocking in equal measure – it forces you to think where you stand on the action taken by Childers in both past and present. However as the film goes on the moral debate becomes simplified and it is clear where we are being steered, as opposed to being allowed to think things out for ourselves. The `debate' or thoughtful side is lost and we are left with the courtroom drama side of things.

I'm not a big fan of courtroom thrillers as they often rely on unlikely twists at the end and lots of shouting in place of substance. However I do enjoy the odd one if it hangs together and has energy. However, the courtroom scenes here never really get off the ground and surprisingly (given the emotive subject) really lack energy and twists. Even the conclusion of the film is a real damp squid, the verdict is simply delivered, so if you're expecting twists and turns and big revelations forget it. Inexplicably, the film puts up two or three captions over the final shot to tell us more information – for some of these the film would have been much more exciting if it had worked these into the final 20 minutes of the film. To have them as flat words on a screen is pointless (especially since this isn't a true story!).

Jones and Jackson both do good work, as you'd expect for a pair of tough nuts such as they. Jackson has the better character (until the script weakens itself). Pearce is OK in support but the script doesn't give him too much to work with, his side of the case is easy of course, so the film stops him overpowering the court case at the same time as it simplifies it's stance. Support from faces such as Kingsley, Archer, Greenwood and Underwood is OK but in some cases are so brief to be cameos.

Overall this starts well, but it fairs to really involve once the moral debate side of the film is simplified and phased out. The question `what would you do' is rendered null and void with each flashback Jackson has. The courtroom scenes barely fizzle let alone ignite the screen and the film putters to a poor ending that is badly done. Worth seeing with good performances from the leads but still a pretty big disappointment.


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