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Courage Under Fire

6.61 h 56 min1996X-RayR
A military investigator with his own troubled combat history interviews multiple soliders to discover if a female pilot - killed in the line of duty - deserves the Medal of Honor. With Matt Damon, Lou Diamond Phillips.
Edward Zwick
Denzel WashingtonMeg RyanLou Diamond Phillips
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Michael MoriartyBronson PinchotSeth GilliamRegina TaylorZeljko IvanekScott GlennMatt Damon
John DavisJoseph M. SingerDavid T. Friendly
R (Restricted)
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4.6 out of 5 stars

1283 global ratings

  1. 77% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

JosephReviewed in the United States on July 18, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Liberal fantasy world wishful thinking tripe
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My wife and I are both Denzel fans so we watched this mess that even he couldn't save. If you wonder how the political left manages to stay in constant denial about the mess they have made of our country this is the explanation. They create films and TV shows where things are as they wish rather than as they are. I call it the science of wishful thinking. It's where they immerse themselves when confronted with raw facts.
Anyway, if you want to spend a couple hours watching pigs and helicopters fly this is the turkey for you.
11 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on October 15, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Chaos of combat and the guilt some soldiers felt afterward
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Courage Under Fire is about two officers and their Gulf War experiences. The story revolves around three main characters. Captain Karen Walden (Meg Ryan) is up for the Medal of Honor. She was a helicopter pilot who saved a group of surrounded soldiers. She died in the action however. Lieutenant Colonel Serling (Denzel Washington) is put in charge of looking into the matter to see whether Captain Walden should win the medal. He is also dealing with his own time during the war when he was involved in a friendly fire incident and destroyed a tank in his own unit. He’s full of guilt as a result. The third character is Sergeant John Monfriez (Lou Diamond Phillips) who was Captain Walden’s gunner. He’s bitter over what happened and resents Walden. It turns out Serling is worried about a cover-up about what he did and what happened to Walden.

The movie is a compelling story about the chaos of combat and how it can be seen from different perspectives. It has a bit of a Roshomon element to it as Serling interviews people and each one has a different version of what happened and how Walden acted.

Washington of course is great in his role. His scenes with Phillips stand out because you can feel the pressure between them. It’s like they want to punch each other in the face if they could. You can also feel the weight on their soldiers over what they did during the war.

I’m not sure it was really necessary to have two stories Walden and Serling running parallel. They were both linked by trying to tell the truth of what happened but I also feel like they wanted to have a male story and highlight Denzel more.

Despite that Courage Under Fire is still a Great War film about accountability.
3 people found this helpful
Lanna S. SeuretReviewed in the United States on July 20, 2017
3.0 out of 5 stars
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This film is a fine showcase for a courageous officer (Denzel Washington) to live by his values: he, even though under query by his senior officer
refuses to just pass on a recommendation for a medal of courage for another officer ( Meg Ryan) who was fatally injured by enemy attack (Gulf War) after her rescue helicopter was shot down.

SPOILER: The clues Denzel uncovers are from her crew who survived: one went AWOL, another was secretive, very angry, and soon committed
suicide in an eye popping run in with a train, actually witnessed by Washington. and another whose memory was unclear due to the trauma. The only discrepancy I could discern was that Lou Diamond Phillips (the angry suicide) said he was the one who thought of overboarding the drum of
napalm over the enemy camp and firing it with a pistol,destroying the tank and many lives, while Matt Damon (the seeming poor memory) reported
that Meg Ryan was the one who knew to do it,even while under great duress when her pilot was shot in the head, and she had to take over under fire.

The premise of the story was good, the acting excellent by everyone, the direction very good as to keep interest, and keep us awake, he flash backed the story those who were being interviewed by Washington told, so it stayed very fresh.

So, does it really matter whose idea it was to "bomb" the enemies on the ridge? A crew consists of real people with various experiences; the captain's job is to use good ideas and keep everyone focussed and alive, right? In the end, she did a lot to keep them alive, and refused to leave,
I'm guessing, because she was painfully and fatally wounded, and knew she would slow anyone down who had to carry her.

I just missed the point. Hopefully, one of you who understands this better than I will put me out of this misery.

Note: Removed one star just because it wasn't clear, and I wanted to be heard for my own experience.
4 people found this helpful
JAReviewed in the United States on December 16, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
The DVD was excellent and the movie itself was profound
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The DVD was excellent and the movie itself was profound. I don't know who did the screen play but I think the story line is terrific, you can't guess how it is going to end or what is going to happen next. Denzel Washington is terrific in it, he is one of those actors I always enjoy and his films are excellent. He's not afraid of gritty, unfunny stories that make us think about the important, valuable things in our lives. I always enjoy Meg Ryan but what a different, spine chilling tale to see her in. If anyone is inspired by stories of truth, forgiveness, and working through the amazing challenges our lives sometimes offer us this is a must see movie in my opinion. Debbie
7 people found this helpful
MrTwistoffReviewed in the United States on January 11, 2018
2.0 out of 5 stars
Movie would not play
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I love the movie (have it on DVD!), but tried upgrading to the Blu Ray version and it would not play on my LG blu ray player. I have a large blu ray collection and tons of other movies play on this unit, but have had a few movies that will not play and therefore have had to return them.

All of the extras would play fine. But the movie would not, jumping to a specific scene would not. Same at the other movies that would not play, once an attempt is made to play the movie (or any part of it), the unit locks up. I have to unplug power from the DVD player, power it back up and open the door to get it out. Have not figured out the pattern but some blu ray discs have some feature/format that makes them unplayable on some players. (The player is up to date with latest firmware, so it's not that.)

Anyway, returned the blu ray copy and kept the regular DVD copy of this one.
2 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on July 5, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A very good movie
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First the movie (the story) is very good. Denzel is great (of course) Meg Ryan in unique role and is also great. This movie is one of a kind I believe regarding the subject matter. The movie twists so as Denzel's character who is seeking out the truth we find out what happens as he finds it out.
Very powerfull sad and heartbreaking that war is and always will be apart of our history and our future and all of us regardless have to pay the price in some way. Watch it and see what I mean
One person found this helpful
glory beReviewed in the United States on October 28, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Face of Guilt
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Courage Under Fire is the story of several people who are not dealing with their feelings of guilt. Denzel Washington lives with the fact that he fired upon the tank of his best friend killing all those in the tank. A medivac helicopter is shot down and the Captain (Meg Ryan) does all that she can to keep her crew alive and alert. As they come under fire the crew want to make a run for it but the Captain lets them know that she is still in charge and no one is going anywhere.

It is Denzel Washington who is given the task of investagating the Captain to see if she should be awarded the Medal of Honor. As he questions the crew it becomes clear that they are being evasive and he searches for the truth.

Edward Zwick is really good directing this kind of movie. Meg and Denzel are the perfect pair for this story. The rest of the helicopter crew including Matt Damon, play their parts with incredible realism.
7 people found this helpful
DarthRadReviewed in the United States on February 25, 2007
5.0 out of 5 stars
Still a great movie after all these years
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This was one of my favorite movies from the 1990's.

A great many things have happened since then to make anyone want to forget this movie, but one day I saw the DVD on Amazon listed for this ridiculously low price, so I got it.

Ah, how things have changed! In 1996 when this movie was made, Meg Ryan was at the peak of her career - she'd been named Woman of the Year by the Harvard Hasty Pudding Society in 1994, and could have just as well been named "America's Sweetheart". She had built up such a reservoir of goodwill for the sweet and lovable characters that she played. Then, in 2001, she turned 40, and had an affair with Russell Crowe while making "Proof of Life" (another movie that I loved at the time, but have since forgotten). She then fell into a full-blown mid-life crisis and basically went nuts, wrecking her face, her public image, and her career. At age 45, she's too old now for the innocent sweetheart roles that made her career, and she hasn't been able to move on to the few wife/mother/divorcee/career woman roles that Hollywood offers to middle-aged actresses. And so she has almost disappeared from the big screen.

At the time, playing the hard-nosed Captain Emma Walden in this movie, Meg Ryan was making a major departure from her usual roles, which only made the story of her character even more poignant. Yes, Captain Walden screamed and cussed at her men and behaved like a "dyke" (that's a quote from a character in the movie, not my opinion, by the way), but we, the moviegoers, all knew that was still good old sweet Meg Ryan underneath that crusty exterior.

Denzel Washington played the deeply conflicted Col. Serling, and this movie would be one of several in the 1990's that would establish him as an A-list superstar.

Lou Diamond Phillips played the angry, callous, and tortured Sgt. Monfriez. Wow! Was it in 1987 that he made "La Bamba"? He was great in that movie and in this movie! And unfortunately those are the only two movies that he's made that I even recognize, as his career fell off into mostly B-movies and TV guest roles.

Matt Damion! I didn't even recognize him in this movie, playing the medic Ilario - he was so young and thin back then. This was one of his first big roles, before he became a star with "Good Will Hunting" and "Saving Private Ryan".

Ah, and of course, there was the background setting of what was known at the time as the Persian Gulf War, but now is usually referred to as the First Iraq War or Iraq War I, to distinguish it from the current quagmire, Iraq War Part Deux.

So no wonder the price of this DVD has dropped like a rock! Subject matter - Iraq War I - who wants to remember that one anymore? Key star of the movie - Meg Ryan - wrecked her image and alienated her fanbase. Time for a clearance sale!

But, this is still a great movie, and it will bring a tear to your eyes.

The story of "Courage Under Fire" is a fiction, but many elements came straight out of the news stories at the time about the real Iraq War I.

I have always thought, for instance, that the idea for the character of Captain Emma Walden was based on the real-life Major Marie Rossi, a Chinook helicopter pilot who was killed in the war. Right before the invasion began, the extremely photogenic Rossi had appeared on national TV in an interview with CNN, talking about flying into combat and facing the possibility of dying in the war. A few days after the interview was broadcast, she and her crew were killed when her helicopter hit the support wires of an unlit microwave tower and crashed. I remember seeing her in the interview and then hearing of her death, and it was quite sad.

Friendly fire was a major element of the news stories from Iraq War I, with the photos of grieving soldiers who had discovered that their friends had died from friendly fire.

"Courage Under Fire" unfolds its tangled storyline in classic "Rashomon" fashion. An ex-tank commander, anguished by his role in an episode of friendly fire that is being covered up by the Army brass, is re-assigned to a desk job to investigate pending medals, one of them being a Medal of Honor to be awarded to the first female soldier to be given such a medal for heroism in combat. His investigation turns up several versions of what happened before he discovers the truth, which turns out to be yet another variety of "friendly fire". And thus fortified, he is also able to address the truth of his own involvement in the friendly fire incident as well.

The final scene of the movie is poignant, mysterious, and lingers in the mind. I still think about it today. It is a replay of an earlier scene in the movie, with one new bit of detail.

It is the morning after the tank battle, and Col. Serling is standing next to the burnt-out tank of his friend, who lies dead on top of the turret. An Army Medevac helicopter that had landed to pick up the wounded takes off in front of him, and Col. Serling looks up, and we see, for the first time, that the pilot of this helicopter is none other than Capt. Walden. She seems to be smiling at him. Is this really how that moment in time transpired? Was she on her way to the battle that would play out in the rest of this movie and go on to earn her the Medal of Honor? Or is this just a trick of Col. Serling's memory, and he is seeing Capt. Walden in his dreams, placing her at this awful moment in time, and she is smiling at him in approval because he has finally gained absolution for both of them by uncovering the truth?
9 people found this helpful
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