Courage Under Fire

  • Film
  • War films
The Gulf War. In a night engagement, Lt Col Nathaniel Serling (Washington) gives the order to fire on one of his own tanks and kills his best friend. Later, having taken a desk job under Gen Hershberg (Moriarty), he's detailed to investigate helicopter pilot Karen Walden (Ryan), who's been recommended for the Medal of Honor. He discovers conflicting testimonies in Walden's case, and also that his own guilt can no longer be hidden. Will the combination of absence from his family, drink, the promptings of journalist Tony Gartner (Glenn), and the conflicting pulls of 'truth' and 'honour' take away his moral courage to deliver the right report? Zwick's second movie with Washington, following his Civil War epic Glory, is a rolling campaign. It starts well, with an opening 'fog-of-war' sequence of old-fashioned panache. And as the detective-story flashback structure gets under way, what initially seemed adherence to dramatic and moral cliché becomes more complex and interesting. But having set up the pins and knocked 'em down, Zwick disappointingly starts standing them up again - to demonstrate the compromising nature of his 'liberal' values.

Release details

Duration: 116 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Edward Zwick
Screenwriter: Patrick Sheane Duncan
Cast: Denzel Washington
Meg Ryan
Lou Diamond Phillips
Michael Moriarty
Scott Glenn
Matt Damon
Bronson Pinchot
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