Published on May 13th, 2008 | by Chris0
Rules of Engagement (2000)
In the vein of such military courtroom dramas as A Few Good Men and The Caine Mutiny, comes Rules of Engagement. The short version: One Marine Corps. Col. Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) must defend his decision to fire on a crowd of protestors at the US Embassy in Yemen. Defending him is his buddy since Vietnam, who was saved by Childers in a nasty battle there, Col. Hayes Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones.)
At the core of Rules of Engagement is the entire principle of the boundaries of war. In fact one of the characters spells it out quite clearly, "There's a thin line between a war hero and a murderer." Or something to that effect. Childers has to make the best decision he can, knowing full well the consequences. Which are plentiful.
There's also an entire subplot which never really resolves itself, namely the destruction of a security camera tape which would exonerate Childers. I kept expecting a copy of the tape to surface, or something which might put that plot-line into place, but it never happens. I suppose we're to take away that it didn't matter much in the first place. That Childers' years of meritorious service and lack of damning evidence prevails... Got me.
Of course the best thing about Rules of Engagement is quite frankly the chemistry between Jackson and Jones. Two superb actors who do not fail to impress, put them both together with an excellent director (William Friedkin) and the result is nothing short of impressive.
Consider also that Rules of Engagement comes out in 2000, and deals with issues facing our troops every day in a post 9/11 world. There are of course other concepts, such as the line that separates enemy from friend, and what actions we take. Particularly when the prosecution brings out an NVA officer from Childers' time in Vietnam.
Yeah, there's the entire politics and State Department cover-up angle... but again, it just doesn't play out quite like it should.
Ultimately, as you might guess, Childers gets out of the mess with nary a scratch. Well, except for a minor charge, just so he doesn't get off scott-free. But there's something less-than-satisfying about it. I was like, "What? That's it?" I fully expected more to come of the above video tape plot, more from the ambassador's wife, etc. etc. Those little things that are brought up and then forgotten. Sure they get a mention in the 'After the movie...' ending plates (personally I don't like them....) but that doesn't much count.
Those little nitpicks don't prevent me from giving Rules of Engagement some high marks. Not solely on the skill of Jackson's and Jones' acting, but the entire package, even with the above problems.
Rules of Engagement
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Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson deliver electrifying performances in this ""tense, superbly-directed and top-drawer drama""* about what happens when the rules that command a soldier become the rules that condemn him...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: JONES,TOMMY LEE
Original Release Date:
- Tommy Lee Jones
- Samuel L. Jackson
- Guy Pearce
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
MORE THAN JUST A COURTROOM DRAMA,
This review is from: Rules of Engagement (DVD)Having served in the Marine Corps, I am a sucker for all things Marine. I am also a fan of both Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson, but then again who isnt? These two powerhouse performers team up for one good movie.
Jackson plays Terry Childers who is a 30 year combat veteran colonel in the Marine Corps. Childers is sent into Yemen to rescue an Ambassador (Ben Kingsley) and his family. The mission gets quite hairy and terrorists and civilians both are caught in the firestorm to follow. The incident in seen as an embarassment at best and a political nightmare at worst by the folks in Washington and Childers is put on military trial for murder. He asks his old buddy Hayes Hodges (Jones) to defend him. Hodges also happens to owe Childers his life from events in Vietnam.
The movie has the outcome you might expect and along the way we are introduced to a not so hidden conspiracy to frame Childers for the crime. What separates this usual plot from other films is the... Read more
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Rules of Engagement (DVD)I enjoyed this movie a lot and I think that it is underrated. Samuel L. Jackson is Marine Colonel Terry Childers and Tommy Lee Jones is the lawyer who must defend him. The movie begins in some nameless jungle in Vietnam where Childers and Jones are soldiers fighting Charlie. A huge gun battle ensues and Jones's group is massacred. But Childers convinces the VC leader to call off the attack by killing his radio operator. Then we are taken to the present day, to San'aa, Yemen, where Childers is forced to get the ambassador out. His marines are being shot at, he thinks by the crowd, and so he orders his marines to open fire. They do, and so begins his difficult legal battle. It is not "A Few Good Men," Rob Reiner's spactacular military courtroom drama, but it is a good, interesting look at the military's justice system, and it keeps you riveted. It is not a really surprise ending, but it works. Jackson is absolutely amazing and Jones plays his part well as Childers's lawyer and... Read more
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Good initial idea and incredible cast, poor scripting,
This review is from: Rules of Engagement (DVD)Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson are excellent as usual in their roles: two old friends from Vietnam whose careers took different courses after a firefight that badly injured Jones. Jackson's Marines rescue a cowardly ambassador and his family from an embassy pelted with rocks, insults and the occasional sniper's bullet. In return for this service, the ambassador will testify that Jackson lost control and opened fire on a crowd full of unarmed civilians, because his superior at the Department of State thinks he should to save the American reputation in the Middle East.
The basic story is good and the actors have amazing presence, but there are a number of amusing inconsistencies in the script, like:
1) Dale Dye, as Samuel L. Jackson's commanding officer, asks him whether he wants private counsel or the base legal office to represent him (if you watch this in a theater full of military personnel, expect this line to be among the funniest in the film)... Read more
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Summary: the best thing about Rules of Engagement is quite frankly the chemistry between Jackson and Jones. Two superb actors who do not fail to impress, put them both together with an excellent director (William Friedkin) and the result is nothing short of impressive.