Rules Of Engagement
Col. Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) is a 30-year Marine veteran, a decorated officer with combat experience in Viet Nam, Beirut and Desert Storm – a patriot, a hero. But now, the country he served so well has put him on trial for a rescue mission that went terribly wrong.
When a large crowd of demonstrators surrounds the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, Col. Childers leads a squadron of Marines to bolster security at the embassy. A few hours after Childers launches his mission, the ambassador’s safety is secured, but three of Childers’ men are dead, along with more than 80 Yemeni men, women and children, killed by Marine gunfire. Childers now faces a court-martial for violating the rules of engagement by killing unarmed civilians.
For his attorney, he has chosen Marine Col. Hays Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones), a comrade-in-arms who owes his life to Childers. Hodges is not the best lawyer in the service, but Childers trusts him as a brother Marine who knows what it’s like to risk death under fire. Bound by duty and friendship, Hodges reluctantly takes the case, even as he begins to doubt the man who saved his life in Viet Nam three decades ago.
Extremely well made and thought provoking, “Rules of Engagement” examines both military and media behavior under the stress of combat. The film also reveals how politicians control military actions and how many in places of political power are willing to sacrifice a devoted man for the sake of expediency. However, the realistic violence and excessive profanity make it unsuitable for family viewing. Although men in combat use extreme language, not every film about wartime must incorporate such obscenity to further the story. Case in point: “The Great Escape” and “The Longest Day” – both great wartime adventures with nary a misuse of God’s name.