The Valley of Death, La Drang, Vietnam, 1965. Lt-Col Hal Moore (Gibson) and 400 of his fellow Seventh Cavalrymen encounter 2,000 dug-in Viet Cong, who they engage in a severe four-day rearguard action, until the remnants are pulled out. The major part of this serious-minded war movie, adapted by the scriptwriter of Braveheart and Pearl Harbor from Col Moore's book, depicts this savage battle in graphic, protracted and often confusing scenes. A forward party is separated; we watch them being picked off relentlessly. 'I'm glad I could die for my country - tell my wife I love her,' says a dying GI, sounding too much like a movie soldier. There's no 'gook' talk here, and few die from 'friendly fire'. Gibson's fatherly commander, whose dictum is 'we're coming back together - dead or alive,' steadfastly strives for iconic status as the image of military professionalism. The movie is as predictable as Gibson's performance; not gung ho, but tokenistic in its effort to present both sides impartially, and celebratory despite the director's determination to show the fighting men as fathers, sons and lovers.
Cast and crew