Melissa Pierson
March 07, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Courage Under Fire

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Lou Diamond Phillips, Meg Ryan, Denzel Washington, Matt Damon, Michael Moriarty
director
Edward Zwick
genre
War, Drama

We gave it a B+

It isn’t easy to fault any of the elements of this box office hit, which should attract and satisfy video viewers in great numbers. Courage Under Fire has a taut story involving a troubled Army lieutenant colonel (a smooth, restrained Washington) who runs into a military mystery about the Desert Storm death of a medevac captain (Ryan, with a Southern drawl) while preparing a recommendation for a posthumous Medal of Honor. And while not emotionally complex, Courage certainly is intelligent. Put it all together, though, and you realize…it’s put together too well, with a spit shine so glossy you can practically see yourself. Some will admire the surface; others will wonder if there’s anything underneath.

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