A fact-based tale of men under fire, their common acts of uncommon valor, and their loyalty to and love for one another during one of the most savage military battles in U.S. history. On November 14, 1965, in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam, in a small clearing called Landing Zone X-Ray, Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore and 400 troopers from the U.S. 7th Air Cavalry are surrounded by 2000 enemy soldiers in what would become the first, and perhaps the worst, major battle of the Vietnam War.
Square, corny, but effective all the same, Randall Wallace's film — based on the book by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore, retired, and Joseph L. Galloway — chronicles a bloody three-day battle between the United States Seventh Cavalry and the North Vietnamese army in November 1965. The early part of the movie, which depicts the American soldiers at home with their loyal wives and cute kids, is almost unbearably hokey in its simplistic view of American innocence. The war sequences that follow — uncompromisingly brutal and solidly photographed and edited — offer an honest, clear-eyed picture of both military disaster and valor in combat. For all the violence, an air of calm, sad stoicism — embodied by Mel Gibson, who plays Moore with apt modesty and discipline — prevails. At the end, one feels the story has been honorably told, and that due tribute has been paid both to the American soldiers and their Vietnamese adversaries. – A. O. Scott
2002-03-01 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of We Were Soldiers