Courage Under Fire

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20th Century Fox Released 1996

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Movie Summary

Director:
Edward Zwick
Released:
1996
Rating:
R

Courage Under Fire is a 1996 war drama about the Gulf War. It is one of the first movies to be made that talked about the Gulf War. The film is about Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Serling (Denzel Washington), a former soldier that ended up killing one of his friends during a tank invasion in Iraq. The military covered up the incident and forced Serling into a desk job. Now Serling is assigned to investigate the medal of honor candidacy of female helicopter pilot Captain Karen Emma Walden. At first the case seems pretty clean cut, with three of the men involved claim that she deserves the medal. But when Staff Sergeant Monfriez (Lou Diamond Phillips) says otherwise, suspicion surrounding her being the first woman to ever receive the medal of honor becomes apparent. Now Serling must dig deeper to find the truth of what happened during the downed helicopter incident. Serling relies heavily on the testimonial of Specialist Ilario (Matt Damon) and the evident continuity problems between the men over the firing of an M16 rifle during the skirmish. The film becomes somewhat of a courtroom drama, but with no courtroom and the gravity of the situation adds to the tensions between all parties.

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Metacritic Score

  • 90

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    Intelligent, involving and serious, it is as honestly emotional as Hollywood allows itself to get, a story of the search for wartime truth whose own concern for the genuine makes a...

  • 80

    The New York Times Elvis Mitchell

    Despite its underlying predictability, Courage Under Fire manages warmth, intelligence and a healthy share of surprises.

  • 80

    Variety

    Edward Zwick's high-minded new outing offers plenty of old-fashioned movie virtues such as believable action, plausible psychology, fully played-out confrontations and honest emoti...

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    Military & War