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Films >> We Were Soldiers (2002) >>

1) Such is the danger of making war films in the new century, when hardcore digital realism must go hand in hand with fuzzy, inspirational notions of neo-warrior ethos. (Michael Atkinson)

2) "We Were Soldiers" is, ultimately, a powerful and moving experience-once it overcomes its clunky, badly written and clichéd first act. (David Ansen)

3) The overall tone, however, is full of Hollywood cliches as men of all races and backgrounds come together to create something Moore calls "what home was always supposed to be," a place where people would uncritically care for each other. (Joseph Cunneen)

4) The real battle isn't against the enemy, the film seems to be saying, as much as it is within the person in charge, the one who must decide for himself and his men the right thing to do during very wrong times. (John Petrakis)

5) Wallace puts the audience there, in the middle of the night, in these last seconds of calm before the commotion and the calamity. . . . Profound moments such as these can come only when a filmmaker's deep sympathy is matched by a rare artistic intelligence. (Mick LaSalle)

6) In the leathery skulls of Wallace and Moore—a war-game-playing dilettante and a seasoned warmonger—saying that the America-Vietnam War was a horrific, idiotic waste of life is somehow not tantamount to saying it was a crime. (Michael Atkinson)

7) We Were Soldiers shows in vivid detail how the enemy drew Americans into battle as a kind of training and dress rehearsal for engagements. (John Meroney)

8) ''We Were Soldiers'' is intended to be not only the story of the men who fought at Ia Drang, but also a tribute to them and their adversaries. (A.O. Scott)

9) What happened out there was just a shootout in the grass, and man oh man, the enemy was ready for that fight, we were not. (Joe Galloway, qtd in Schogol)

10) How we fought for each other, and died for each other will go a long way toward elevating the standing of the Vietnam veteran. . . . It's a movie that will show that it's okay to hate war but love the American warrior (Harold G. Moore)

11) "We Were Soldiers" turns the war over to the white males who were simply brave--the kind of Americans who loved their God, revered their wives, and honored the Asian enemy. The movie is a piece of hero worship devoted to a commander who embodies these virtues. (David Denby)

12) Bullets smash faces and rip through bellies inches from the camera, whose lens is occasionally smeared with blood. When the snap of gunfire and the thump of artillery momentarily fall silent, the air is filled with the moans of the wounded. (A.O. Scott)

13) There were no maps, no water; we had not slept for three days. Everywhere one turned, you either stepped on a dead GI or dead NVA. Grenades going off, mortars and artillery coming in, and then jets and napalm. (Bud Alley, qtd in Schogol)

14) We Were Soldiers is wildly uneven. When it is weak, especially in the early expository sections, it can be painfully so, but when it is strong, notably during the battle sequences where veteran cinematographer Dean Semler is able to strut his stuff, it is often overwhelmingly powerful. (John Petrakis)

15) To its credit, "We Were Soldiers" does not demonize the enemy; their officers are brave and capable, and we are even shown a Vietnamese soldier taking a last look at a photo of his girlfriend before the final attack. The movie also gives considerable emphasis to religion. (Joseph Cunneen)

16) The depiction of their home lives is meant to fill in a human dimension that will be effaced by the mud and noise of Ia Drang. (A.O. Scott)

17) Likewise, a segment in the movie "We Were Soldiers" that addressed what happened after the first part of the battle [LZ Albany] was cut from the film, Galloway said. "I disagreed with that, so did Gen. [Hal] Moore, but when you sign a contract, you lose control of the movie part of it anyway, they do what they're going to do," Galloway said. "It's kind of like giving up your child for adoption." (Joe Galloway, qtd in Schogol)

18) Ia Drang cannot be called a defeat, since Moore's men fought bravely and well, suffering heavy casualties but killing even more Viet Cong. But it is not a victory; it's more the curtain-raiser of a war in which American troops were better trained and better equipped, but outnumbered, out maneuvered and finally outlasted. (Roger Ebert)

19) Hollywood has figured out a way to present war movies without seeming to rattle sabers or wave flags, and at the same time appeal to our patriotic spirit (David Ansen)

20) We Were Soldiers cannot and should not revise the nation's view of the Vietnam war, but it does redefine the meaning of heroism during that chaotic political period. (John Petrakis)

21) ''We Were Soldiers'' treats war as a nightmare, it also insists on the honor and rectitude of the men who fight it, and on portraying their loyalty to one another in an almost romantic light. (A.O. Scott)

22) Wallace expunges references to anything as contentious as communism or the domino theory and suggests that America's role in Vietnam was that of an international policeman motivated only by altruistic concerns. (Jamie Russell)

23) When the movie gets to Vietnam and the fighting begins, the movie starts to take hold. You can sense the filmmaker's respect for the hard, specific thrusts of warfare. The terrifying action scenes are masterfully staged, conveying the close-up chaos of war without losing the larger strategic picture. (David Ansen)

24) We Were Soldiers fails to find the right balance between depicting the grisly hellishness of the battlefield and examining the political realities behind America's involvement in such vicious fire fights. (Jamie Russell)

25) Stupendous courage and sacrifice was displayed at LZ Albany, but the characters we chose to focus on [Hal Moore and his unit] we're not at that confrontation; telling the story of LZ Albany and the stunning heroism displayed there, would require a separate film to do it justice. (Randall Wallace, qtd in Schogol)

26) The persistence of this American narrative -- that war inherently provides the means for the enactment of heroic masculinity -- certainly suggests its strength. (Brenda Boyle)

27) It was a “love story,” about men “proud of the opportunity to serve [the] country.” It was also a story about the “far more transcendent love” that comes to men “unbidden on the battlefields. . . . We killed for each other, we died for each other, and we wept for each other. And in time, we came to love each other as brothers. (Marilyn Young)

28) We Were Soldiers's mode of remembering the past -- not only the battle itself but the antecedents that it brings to bear upon it -- aligns its historicist ambitions more with the habits, stratagems, and artifacts of cultural memory than with any formal historical methods in evidence throughout the source text or in other accounts of the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. (Armando Prats)

29) We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young strongly suggest that masculine performance does not always or even usually end in masculinity's confirmation. (Brenda Boyle)

30) In this film one cannot appeal to any traditional notions of patriotism, let alone a crusade against Communism. Norman Mailer's question -- decades old -- "Why Are We in Vietnam?" was never addressed in these films. The answer was perhaps too embarrassing for the screenwriter to even contemplate. So We Were Soldiers reflects the new patriotism in its story. No one explains why they are in Vietnam. They fight for each other. They fight to ensure that everyone comes back -- dead or alive. (Frank Wetta)

31) Better not inquire too deeply into why American soldiers must be helicoptered into the killing fields of a barren, sun-drenched African desert or a humid Southeast Asian jungle. (Tom Doherty)

32) In order to understand contemporary war films one must recognize the generic past of such films while also understanding the differences that exist between these films and the films that have influenced them. (E. A. Clarke)

33) As reflected in many popular American war narratives of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, however, instead of war's bolstering and confirming masculinity, what can be observed are repeated instances of males attempting to perform this purportedly stable gender condition instead of exhibiting traditional forms of masculinity. (Brenda Boyle)