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We Were Soldiers | 2002 | R | - 3.9.5

Account based on the true story of Lt. Col. Hal Moore (Mel Gibson) who led 400 soldiers into the "Valley of Death" in November 1965. It was the first major ground engagement of the Vietnam War and it was bloody. Written and directed by Randall Wallace who also scripted Gibson's "Braveheart." Also with Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliott, Chris Klein and Barry Pepper. [2:18]

SEX/NUDITY 3 - All scenes are between a married couple: A man jumps on top of a woman lying in bed and they kiss passionately, there's another kiss, and a man and woman hold each other in bed. Women are shown in slinky nightgowns a few times, exposing bare shoulders and some cleavage. Men and women dance, hold each other closely and kiss romantically.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 9 - A group of French soldiers are ambushed and massacred as they pass along a dirt road; they are all killed and the commanding officer of the enemy says "kill them all and they'll stop coming": A man is shot in the head and blood and brain matter splatter on the man next to him, a man is shot in the throat and lots of blood gushes from the wound, a man is bayoneted in the back, a wounded man is shot again, and we hear several more shots as the screen goes black (we see a photo of the aftermath of this attack in a book, several times). A phosphorus grenade explodes near a man and part of the material ends up lodged in his cheek, it keeps burning (the man screams in agony), and another man tries to cut it out with a knife. A platoon of men chase an enemy scout and end up surrounded by the Vietcong; these men are trapped by the Vietcong overnight, many are wounded and several are killed (when the soldiers stand up they are picked off). A man is shot in the leg, convulses as he goes into shock and then dies. A man is shot in the leg, another man goes back to get the wounded man and he is shot twice and falls to the ground. A wounded man gives up his place on a helicopter for another man whose wounds are more serious, and the first man is shot and killed and dangles from the side of the helicopter as it flies away. There are a couple of scenes that show hand-to-hand combat with punching, kicking, stabbing, and shooting at close range. A group of men in a creek bed are charged by the Vietcong. A man with a bayonet charges a man and is shot in the head. We see many scenes of men being shot and blown up with blood spurting and spraying, we see men with very bloody wounds, some blood splatters on the camera lens a few times, and we see a field hospital with many bloody, wounded men being operated on. Airplanes fly over the battlefield and drop bombs which explode into curtains of flame; one bomb explodes at the front of a line of friendly troops and some men are wounded or killed (we see one man who is badly burned and charred on the face and legs; when two men try to carry him to a helicopter to take him away, the skin pulls off his legs exposing bloody tissue and bone). We see a huge pile of dead, bloody bodies and weapons; also, medical supplies covered by blood and tissue. Helicopters fire on an enemy base camp and men are torn apart by the rapid fire. A helicopter is shot down (we see the pilot dead), it crashes and explodes. Helicopters fire bombs onto the side of a hill and we see men in an underground bunker scurrying around. A man takes off his boots and we see really big, bloody, broken blisters on his feet. A report says that 1800 enemy soldiers were killed during the battle and a list of U.S. soldiers killed runs before the end credits. A man vomits. Many women get the news that their husbands have been killed in battle and we see them grieving and in pain. A newsreel shows wounded people and crying children after an attack. Helicopters filled with soldiers and wounded soldiers fly very close to the trees and ground. There are many explosions, with bombs fired into fields and men thrown into the air. A helicopter is washed out and we see blood pouring off the floor onto the ground. A group of men urinate on an artillery gun to cool it down. Soldiers shoot their weapons during target practice. A man threatens a group of men. A woman's water breaks and she goes into labor. We see many photographs of wounded men, and men in the heat of battle. We see drawings in a book of Custer's last stand; bodies litter the ground.


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LANGUAGE 5 - 4 F-words, 12 scatological terms, 5 anatomical terms, 22 mild obscenities, 7 religious profanities, 3 religious exclamations, and some insults.


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SUBSTANCE USE - Men are shown drinking beer and smoking cigars and cigarettes.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - War, preparation, Vietnam, sin, religion, family, racism, POWs, responsibility, guilt, anger.

MESSAGE - Soldiers must fight as a family when in battle; there are no races or religions on the battlefield. Everybody suffers loss in a war.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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