We Were Soldiers: Stephen Vaughan
EW Staff
February 07, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

We Were Soldiers

Current Status
In Season
Wide Release Date
Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear, Chris Klein, Barry Pepper, Keri Russell, Madeleine Stowe
Randall Wallace
Paramount Pictures
Randall Wallace
War, Drama

We gave it a B

Once again, Hollywood flashes back to the Vietnam War, though ”We Were Soldiers” — based on an early battle that encouraged American military brass to believe that the conflict was winnable — unabashedly seeks to be less like ”Platoon” and more like ”Saving Private Ryan.” ”If I was going to describe it, I would say it is savagely uncynical,” says Wallace (”The Man in the Iron Mask”), who believes the movie has greater relevance in light of recent events. ”September 11 reminded us that there are such things as duty, honor, and courage. This is a movie about such things.” Gibson plays Lt. Col. Hal Moore, who in November 1965 found himself and about 400 of his men caught in an ambush by some 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Wallace received cooperation from the U.S. military, though his six Vietnam-era Huey helicopters came from private donors. A political quagmire. A military operation gone awry. Helicopters. Didn’t we just see this in ”Black Hawk Down?” ”It always happens,” says Gibson, sighing. ”It seems like you’re in the arena all by yourself, but no sooner do you get there that you find that someone else is camping in your backyard. I don’t know if it’s industrial espionage or the collective unconscious.” He laughs. ”I suspect both.”

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