Subscribers! Add a note to this movie and/or put it into one of your private movie lists.
Col. Terry Childers is a 30-year Marine veteran: a decorated officer, 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 Col. Hays Hodges, a comrade-in-arms who owes his life to Childers. Bound by duty and friendship, Hodges reluctantly takes the case, even as he begins to doubt the man who saved his life.
Rules of Engagement suffers from a serious split personality disorder. On the one hand, it wants to explore the fascinating question of when killing people in combat turns into murder. On the other hand, the movie wants to present a straightforward courtroom thriller, with all of the usual trappings (an innocent man wrongly accused, a defense attorney striving for redemption, a belligerent prosecuting attorney, and a big speech at the end). Unfortunately, respected director William Friedkin and screenwriter Stephen Gaghan are unable to effectively wed these two elements. The movie creates an over-the-top villain who renders the first approach moot, then shoots down the second one with a feeble ending.
When the U.S. Embassy in
Yemen is surrounded by a large crowd of demonstrators, Col. Terry Childers,
USMC, is ordered to lead a squadron of Marines to bolster security at the
embassy. He has orders to evacuate the ambassador and his family if the
situation turns violent. A few short hours after Childers launches his mission,
the ambassador's safety is secured, but three of Childers' men are dead, along
with more than the 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. He denies the charge, contending the protesters were armed and had
opened fire on the Embassy. But it appears that the government has made the
colonel the fall guy for an ugly diplomatic crisis: the men who could have
testified on his behalf have been killed in action, one of the witnesses seems
to be lying, and the President's National Security Adviser destroys evidence
that might help Childers' case. Childers refuses to go down quietly and turns to
his longtime friend, Hays Hodges, to defend him.