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Rules of engagement

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

A hero should never have to stand alone.

Rules of engagement: directives issued by competent military authority which delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered. - Department of Defense dictionary of military and associated terms
Colonel Terry Childers (Samuel L Jackson) is a 30-year Marine veteran: a decorated officer with combat experience in Vietnam, 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. For his attorney, he has chosen Marine Colonel 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 Vietnam three decades ago.

Persons of interest

  • Tommy Lee Jones .... Colonel Hayes "Hodge" Hodges
  • Samuel L Jackson .... Colonel Terry L Childers
  • Guy Pearce .... Major Mark Biggs
  • Ben Kingsley .... Ambassador Mourain
  • Bruce Greenwood .... National Security Advisor Bill Sokal
  • Anne Archer .... Mrs Mourain
  • Blair Underwood .... Captain Lee
  • Philip Baker Hall .... General H Lawrence Hodges
  • Dale Dye .... General Perry
  • Amidou .... Dr Ahmar
  • Mark Feuerstein .... Tom Chandler
  • Richard McGonagle .... Judge Colonel E Warner
  • Baoan Coleman .... Colonel Binh Le Cao
  • Nicky Katt .... Hayes Hodges III
  • Ryan Hurst .... Captain Hustings
  • Gordon Clapp .... Harris
  • Hayden Tank .... Justin Mourain
  • James Webb .... Screenwriter
  • Stephen Gaghan .... Screenwriter
  • William Friedkin .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Rules of engagement is nothing new, but it's done well enough that you can believe it might be. You know: good soldier does his duty and gets done-in by the higher-ups looking to save their skins, and remember, there's nothing as dangerous as an innocent man. Especially in the US of A.

So what's worth seeing in Rules of engagement? There's some fun shooting at American soldiers (that's always good for a laugh) and there's some good courtroom stuff (that's always good for a bit of tension). Samuel L Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones do their entertainment thing (you don't really expect me to use the term "act" do you?). Guy Pearce has a standard-issue Marine staff up his butt but does it with the strangest mish-mash of a Southern accent I have ever heard.

Ummm... that pretty much takes care of things. Watch it now, watch it on video, wait for the TV broadcast, it doesn't really matter, you'll enjoy it the same whichever you choose.

Complaint: At the end of the film short sentences are flashed on the screen telling you what happened to the various characters. It looks tacked-on, as if the test audience (of Americans, remember) wasn't happy without a sense of complete closure. It also serves to make the film look more fictitious than if they'd left them off. The insatiable American appetite for happy endings is very, very annoying. It's as if they're trying to compensate for the lack of closure (and happiness) in life. They need to realise that life sux and no-one ever knows what really happened. That's why God invented Royal Commissions.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1; Dolby 2.0
  • Picture: Widescreen
  • Features:
    • Commentary: William Friedkin
    • Documentary: Behind the "Rules of engagement"
    • Interviews: A look inside
  • Subtitles: English captions
  • Trailer: Theatrical

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Medium level violence, medium level coarse language)

Surveillance time

122 minutes (2:02 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD retail: 8 August 2001

Cinema surveillance images

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