We Were Soldiers

Rated 3.0 Writer/director Randall Wallace adapts Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway’s first-hand account of the battle of the Ia Drang Valley—one of the U.S.’s first major engagements of the Vietnam War—into a throwback to films like Pork Chop Hill and The Longest Day. Like those movies—and Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down—Wallace memorializes the warriors without discussing the war. He does justice to the savage combat but never quite makes dramatic sense of it; the geography and progress of the battle—even the Army’s reason for being there in the first place—are only vaguely indicated. The actors are fine—Mel Gibson as Moore, Madeleine Stowe as his wife, Barry Pepper as Galloway, Chris Klein, Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear—but they’re all largely reduced to stereotypes.