Rules of Engagement
The problem with Rules of Engagement isn't that it isn't good. It's that it
isn't as good as it thinks it is.
The film opens with two very good action sequences. One in Vietnam, and then
one in The Middle East. Bullets fly, people are shot, chaos ensues. Very
Then the violence stops, the drama begins, and the pace slows to a grinding
Folks, when you open your flick with two action-packed sequences, you can't
just switch gears and expect everyone to feel hunky-dory about it. We're
pumped! We're primed! We want more bloodshed! Bring it on!
But no, this is an IMPORTANT movie, and we're doing a lot of discussion of
Samuel L. Jackson is in charge of a military evacuation that ends up with 83
dead Yemen protesters - including women and children. He goes on trial for
murder. Tommy Lee Jones defends him. There ya go. Complicated, isn't it?
Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy L. Jones (actually, it's Tommy LEE Jones, but I
think it's cute that they both have the same middle initial) are quite good
in this movie. They are good actors who, when given tasty parts to chew on,
usually rise to the occasion.
But so what? Samuel L. has already played the wrongly-accused good guy in
The Negotiator and Tommy L. has already played the cranky-yet-tough old-timer
know-it-all in just about every movie he's ever done. Nothing new here.
And the other cast members? Same thing. Bruce Greenwood as the slimy bad
guy? Double Jeapordy. Guy Pearce as the by-the-book guy courted by the bad
guys to help their case? L.A. Confidential.
I could go on.
In fact, I will. Anne Archer as the quiet wife of an important government
official? Patriot Games. Ben Kingsley as the powerless government dupe?
The IMPORTANT topics dealt with here involve the question of when deadly
force can be used, and when it can't. Samuel claims that the protesters
were armed and shooting at him - including the women and children. And when
civilians are armed and shooting Marines, they cease to be civilians, and can
be taken out with the use of deadly force. Or can they?
Hence the moral dilemma. Real heady stuff. Makes you think. Makes you
ponder. Then it just makes you wish for another cool firefight to pass the
Confusing the matter even more, the movie ends with "what happened after"
text right before the closing credits. As if it were a true story. But the
text is so lame, it's a mockery. Might as well have just said "The Bad Guys
Paid For Their Crimes" for all the interesting information they left us with.
My advice to anyone really interested in this movie, decide what kind of
movie you want to see. If you want an exciting action flick, leave after the
first 30 minutes. If you want a tense courtroom drama, show up 30 minutes
Either way, you'll be happier.
I'm giving the first part of Rules of Engagement 4 1/7 Babylons. I'm giving
the second part 3 4/5. But if you end up seeing the whole thing, then it
gets 2 5/6. It's all about the fractions, baby!
The Rules of Engagement need to be amended to say the use of Deadly Force is
permitted when dealing with a self-centered, pompous Critic who couldn't
spell the word "cat" if you gave him the c and the t.
Rules Of Engagment
Directed By: William Friedkin
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy L Jones, Ben L. Kingsley, Blair L.
Underwood, Anne L. Archer, Guy L. Pearce, Philip L. Baker L. Hall and Amidou.
That's right, just Amidou. That's his entire name, Amidou. That's so cool!
Although it really should be L. Amidou.