We Were Soldiers

  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 138 minutes

Common Sense Media says

One of the most violent movies ever released.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 138 minutes





What parents need to know


Extreme, vivid, graphic, and relentless battle violence




Some strong language

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking


Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is one of the most brutally violent movies ever released, with up-close, graphic, and relentless violence and the deaths of many characters. There is some strong language and a mild sexual situation.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

WE WERE SOLDIERS is based on the book by Lt. Colonel Harold G. Moore, a devout Catholic who is as devoted a commander as he is a father. Moore was asked to develop the "air cavalry," a system for using helicopters in combat. He led the Americans into their first major engagement in Viet Nam. They were hopelessly outmanned, with just 400 soldiers to 2000 Vietnamese. They fought bravely and did their best to look out for each other. And most of them were killed or wounded. Mel Gibson, as Moore, is the man we would all want to lead us into battle, a true hero who promises his men that he will always be the first on the field and the last to leave, and that men may die, but none will be left behind. He trains his men to learn the tasks of the man above and teach their own tasks to the man below, and directs them, above all, to take care of each other, he gives them a purpose and a dignity that, sadly, the conflict they were sent to fight and the politicians who sent them there never could.

Is it any good?


We Were Soldiers spends half an hour making us care about each of the characters and the rest of the movie blowing them up. There have been thousands of war movies, and dozens of movies about the Viet Nam war, but this is one of the few to truly honor the men who fought and the women they loved. This is not a movie about politicians (though there are some digs at those who sent these men into battle without adequate resources) and it is not a movie about whether the US involvement stemmed from imperialism or a commitment to freedom. This is a movie about those who put their lives on the line not for their country but for each other.

The movie has some weaknesses that, in context, work very well. The battle action is often hard to follow, though perhaps that is a good way to replicate the relentlessness and disorientation of war. The characters and dialogue are clichéd, even corny. But in the context of the movie, they become paradigms. We Were Soldiers also takes the unusual step of treating the soldiers on the other side with dignity as well, making them human beings with ability, honor – and wives left behind to mourn them.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how we decide to risk American lives in a war, and how, knowing that lives will be lost, we prepare and motivate our armed forces. They may want to discuss their own views on the war in Viet Nam and the treatment of veterans.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 1, 2002
DVD release date:August 20, 2002
Cast:Greg Kinnear, Madeleine Stowe, Mel Gibson
Director:Randall Wallace
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:138 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:extreme and graphic battle violence

This review of We Were Soldiers was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byboone county April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Inspiring & Enlightening

Mel is fantastic in this role!
Adult Written byDr3w November 9, 2011

Not For Kids

Here's the thing: films like this are appropriate for their intended audience, which is adults. They are not for children of any age and not even most older teens should be exposed to this film in my opinion. Yeah, a lot of teen guys will be ok seeing it, but maybe they'd be better off waiting a few years. Girls probably wouldn't want to see this movie anyways, but I think if they did they would be appalled and probably closing their eyes for most of it. I think the description of this film as "one of the most violent films ever" is an extreme exaggeration because the violence in this film is realistic and not over the top like many horror films. However, the language and graphic violence definitely limit the audience on this one.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byThannad June 27, 2009

Crap film, ok for teens

Personaly thought it was an awfull film. There is much blood and gore and film is extremly violent although deaths are usually quick and painless. There is very little swearing or sex for the genre. Whille this is a violent film, there are far more innapropiate and more disturbing Vietnam films out there
What other families should know
Too much violence


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