Soldiers at work

It has been over a quarter century since the last American body bag was airlifted out of Vietnam, and after a series of disturbing, castigating and sometimes surreal movies about that reviled war, Hollywood clearly feels that the coast is clear to present a Vietnam combat film that adheres more closely to the old rules of the genre. Veteran filmgoers will recognize the elements: The impossibly stoic and brave commanding officer who is tough on his men, but would walk barefoot over hot coals for them. The racially mixed company of soldiers who overlook their differences to become a lean, mean fighting machine. The "been there, done that" sergeant who rides the grunts for their own good. The raw recruit who is the first to die. The supposedly dispassionate observer who ends up joining or at least supporting the soldiers. And, of course, the families back home, especially the wives, who wait patiently for their men to return with their shields or on them.


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