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.