Monday, September 17, 2012

Rules of Engagement (2000)

The attacks on US embassies in Egypt and Libya reminded me of this movie (for obvious reasons) and Black Hawk Down. Just to be clear, however: while Schuster at the Movies often takes an irreverent tone, the murders of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other Americans was a tragedy, and it is not my intention to disrespect these individuals, or to poke fun at recent events with this blog.

Please click the link to read my review of The Caine Mutiny.

Synopsis: Old Marine Corps buds rekindle friendship over fly-fishing, beer, and massacre of Yemeni protesters.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Colonel Terry Childers is a patriot and war hero. But when a peacekeeping mission he leads in Yemen goes terribly wrong, he finds himself facing a court martial. Accused of breaking the rules of engagement by killing unarmed civilians, Childers’ only hope of vindication rests with comrade-in-arms Hays Hodges, a military lawyer of questionable abilities. Together, they face the battle of their lives.”

What Did I Learn?: Don’t even think about trusting those pinstriped, cookie-pushing turds at the State Department.

Really?: 1) So wait...thirty marines fire into a crowd and not one of them sees a weapon, either as they’re shooting, or afterwards? I have an extremely hard time believing that. 2) Even the little girl (later seen on crutches) was shooting at the embassy? I’d have a lot more respect for this film if it honestly acknowledged that innocent people were hurt by Childers’ (Samuel L. Jackson) actions, but this is just bullshit. 3) Childers encounters left-wing protesters at the military base, but isn’t likely that talk radio and Fox News would whip up counter-protests, and he might even find himself an instant folk hero? 4) You would have to be an awfully cold bastard to (figuratively) stab the man who saved your life, and the lives of your wife and son. 5) For a guy who calls himself a “weak lawyer”, Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones) does a pretty good job in the courtroom. 6) Jackson and Jones are WAY too old for the Vietnam scenes. 7) The ending. I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but...let’s just say that I was expecting a lot more.  

Rating: Rules of Engagement is an entertaining and well-acted film about a Marine Corps court-martial, with fine performances from Jones and Jackson, and a surprising number of cameos from a variety of stars. That said, the premise is rather contrived, the scene of the little girl shooting at the embassy pissed me off, and the ending is so lacklustre and lazy (it’s hard for me to describe without giving away the storyline) that I mumbled: “oh, come on” when the credits appeared. It’s an ok movie as long as you don’t take it too seriously. 6.5/10 stars.


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