Veterans Day Movie Review

Weekend Chef here. On this Veterans Day, we here at NY Foodie Family would like to extend our sincerest thanks and appreciation to all those in the armed forces serving at home and around the world. I wanted to share a movie review which is doubly appropriate this week. On a whim, I happened to watch “We Were Soldiers” on Netflix a few days ago. Coincidentally, the events depicted in the film happened 50 years ago this week. When the movie hit theaters in 2002, I didn’t pay it much attention. It seemed like a generic Vietnam War movie. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good war movie. I made sure to see “Saving Private Ryan” when it came out. But I skipped the likes of “Windtalkers” with Nicholas Cage. I guess I originally put “We Were Soldiers” in the skip category.

The film was based on the book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young written in 1992 by Lt. General (Ret.) Hal Moore and reporter Joseph Galloway. Both these individuals were featured in the movie, portrayed by Mel Gibson and Barry Pepper, respectively. The film included dozens of portrayals of real soldiers, their wives and families. The focus on a number of these individuals gives the viewer the opportunity to connect with many of them over the course of a few hours. The beginning of the film starts in the early days of the US involvement in Vietnam with Mel Gibson’s Lt. Colonel Moore in the training phase in the US prior to escalation of the conflict overseas. I appreciated the development of the relationships on the home front before jumping into the battle scenes further ahead. The film’s battles dramatize the Battle of Ia Drang between November 14 and 18, 1965 where the American forces are vastly outnumbered and ambushed by the Vietnamese army. The 3 days of fighting are intense. One element that a lot of other films typically don’t address is the opposing perspective. A fair amount of time is spent on showing the Vietnamese commanders and soldiers are real people too and not just nameless and faceless combatants. I give credit to the film for it’s attention to facts and details. Of course everything gets a little exaggerated by Hollywood, but Lt. General Moore himself found this to be one war movie that “got it right”.

I recommend taking the time to watch this film on Veterans Day on the battle’s roughly 50th anniversary. I hope it gives some perspective of what regular folks do to commit and sacrifice for everyone’s safety and freedom. Please forgive Mel Gibson for his recent personal missteps long enough to watch an engaging performance.