Courage Under Fire

"OK"

Courage Under Fire Review


The so-called Gulf War is the only war in which America was involved that, due to my age, I can personally remember. I saw it on CNN like everyone else, listening to the death toll of Iraqis climb into the 100,000 range, while U.S. casualties stayed around 300 -- half of whom were killed by accidents or friendly fire. The idea of a Gulf "War" will always be kind of silly to me, because the word "war" implies two sides fighting each other. The Gulf War was the wholesale slaughter of Iraqis by U.S. troops.

I'm not saying the Gulf War was a bad, or unjust, operation. It's more of a joke than anything else, and that's why when a film comes out attempting to glamorize the war and make heroes out of fictional soldiers and fictional events, I greet it with a bit of skepticism. Courage Under Fire (just out on DVD) is the first real Gulf War movie. It probably won't be the last.

Keeping in mind that this is all make-believe, the film's story is this. Karen Walden (Meg Ryan) was a helicopter pilot, shot down during a rescue attempt which turned into an ad hoc offensive. Stranded in Iraqi territory overnight, Karen and her crew fended off the enemy until a morning rescue saved them all -- except her.

Or so the story goes. Because of her courage, Karen is being considered for the Medal of Honor, and Serling (Denzel Washington) is on the investigatory case. All seems well until another side of the story surfaces, mainly told by one Monfriez (Lou Diamond Phillips), who says Karen was a coward and that the whole thing is a sham. We see the events (over and over and over and over) from about six points of view, each time with a twist of some sort. On top of that, Serling is fighting his own demons due to a little incident where he blew up a friendly tank -- on accident -- and this incident is played over and over as well.

Where to start with the litany of things that bothered me about Courage? For one, who cares about this story? The characters are not compelling, and Karen is so obnoxious and Ryan's performance is so horrible that I was glad she was dead. (Don't get me started on Ryan's faker-than-fake Southern accent: "Peeyick 'iiiyem uhhhhp!" (Pick him up!)) Serling's subplot has very little to do with the rest of the story. And the whole thing is just pointless, coming off as propaganda, glamorizing war and the military. Please do not believe the hype.

Then again, the movie is quite pretty. The story, while poor, is well-told at least, and Washington's performance is good, as usual. Comparisons to Rashomon are a bit out of place, but not out of the realm of reason. And I had a lot more fun looking at the local scenery and locations (the movie was largely shot in Austin) than anything else.

I guess the case for Courage Under Fire is that it is exposing this abstract "truth" of how Americans were killed by friendly fire in the Gulf War. Is that truth? If so, it's one we already knew.

Would you give this chick a medal?



Courage Under Fire

Facts and Figures

Run time: 117 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th July 1996

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Production compaines: Fox 2000 Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 45 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Joseph M. Singer, David T. Friendly

Starring: as Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Serling, as Captain Karen Emma Walden, as Staff Sergeant John Monfriez, as Ilario, as Brigadier General Hershberg

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.