Rules of Engagement (2000) / War-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for violence and language
Running Time: 128 min.

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Kingsley, Blair Underwood
Director: William Friedkin
Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan

Review published March 31, 2000

A soon-to-be retiring Marine (Jones, Double Jeopardy) is called upon by a Colonel (Jackson, Deep Blue Sea) who saved his life under dubious circumstances in Vietnam.   Colonel Terry Childers was sent into Yemen to rescue the American ambassador (Kingsley, Death and the Maiden) and his family, but an unruly crowd and snipers attack and the Colonel orders retaliation resulting in the killing of 83 Yemenites.  Fearing a world furor over the incident, Childers is brought swiftly to trial for the murder of the people, and the government has stacked the decks against him.

Well-acted and competently directed, Rules of Engagement will please fans of military courtroom dramas, even with it's share of lame moments.  Jones and Jackson give the stellar performances we've come to expect, and LA Confidential's Guy Pearce is terrific as the prosecuting attorney.  The Exorcist and The French Connection director Friedkin keeps the tone subdued and lets the events unfold as they should.  A few lame moments here and there do make the events a bit hard to swallow, but Rules of Engagement is still an enjoyable watch for the performances and story.  Not the most significant of its ilk, but it delivers the goods with assurity.

Qwipster's rating:

2000 Vince Leo