Courage Under Fire (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Courage Under Fire1996

Courage Under Fire (1996)



Critic Consensus: An emotional and intriguing tale of a military officer who must review the merits of a fallen officer while confronting his own war demons. Effectively depicts the terrors of war as well as its heartbreaking aftermath.

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Movie Info

A US Army officer, despondent about a deadly mistake he made, investigates a female chopper commander's worthiness for the Medal of Honor.

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Denzel Washington
as Lt. Col. Nathaniel Serling
Meg Ryan
as Capt. Karen Walden
Michael Moriarty
as Gen. Hershberg
Matt Damon
as Ilario
Seth Gilliam
as Altameyer
Scott Glenn
as Tony Gartner
Regina Taylor
as Meredith
Tim Ransom
as Boylar
Sean Astin
as Patella
Ned Vaughn
as Chelli
Pat Young
as Drill Team Commander
Manny Perez
as Jenkins
Ken Jenkins
as Joel Walden
Kathleen Widdoes
as Geraldine Walden
Christina Stojanovich
as Anne Marie Walden
Lucky Luciano
as Nathan Serling Jr.
Erica C. Newman
as Joleen Serling
Jamal A. Mays
as Brian Serling
Ashlee Jordan Pryor
as Josie Serling
Jeffrey Waid
as Hillerman
Patrick Young
as Drill Team Commander
Jack Watkins
as Coffee Sergeant
Bruce McGill
as McQuillan
Rory J. Aylward
as Teegarden's Crew Chief
John Roarke
as The President
Tom Schanley
as Questioner
Bob Apisa
as Iraqi Tank Commander
Daniel González
as Laughing Gunner
Albert Hall
as Speaker
Richard Venture
as Don Boylar
Diane Baker
as Louise Boylar
Reed Frerichs
as Delinquent Soldier
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News & Interviews for Courage Under Fire

Critic Reviews for Courage Under Fire

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (17)

Washington, subtle, moving and charismatic, anchors the movie...Zwick's movie is solid, honorable and well crafted, but when all the veils have dropped and the mysteries solved, it feels tidier and more melodramatic than it promised.

February 26, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A carefully conceived, dramatically honorable picture that treats its subject with clarity and intelligence, especially by contemporary standards.

July 22, 2008 | Full Review…

As the detective-story flashback structure gets under way, what initially seemed adherence to dramatic and moral cliché becomes more complex and interesting.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Despite its underlying predictability, Courage Under Fire manages warmth, intelligence and a healthy share of surprises.

August 30, 2004 | Rating: 3/4

I wasn't particularly moved or riveted with suspense.

September 11, 2002 | Full Review…

A fascinating mystery mixed with war action.

June 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Courage Under Fire


the rashomon technique employed by a great director and a wonderful cast, the film was intriguing and the characters compelling. one of washington and zwicks 3 films together.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer


An extremely well-told story about honor, loyalty, and doing the right thing even when the wrong way is the easiest. Denzel, like always, gives a great performance as a conflicted, disgraced former captain who carries a heavy load on his shoulders, in addition to trying to validate why a courageous soldier (Meg Ryan) deserves to be awarded the medal of honor posthumously. The different stories that are shown in this movie are incredibly integrated into an emotionally heavy plot which requires a lot from its viewers. Ryan is surprisingly great, you'd think she'd be a total miscast, but she is nothing short of outstanding here. The ending is very fitting, although certainly depressing. An overall great movie, one that deserves to be seen.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

"Now let's kill 'em all." Edward Zwick, director of top movies like "Glory" and "The Last Samurai", is probably a distant relative to Steven Spielberg. Most of his movies suffer from an overdose of melodrama, and "Courage Under Fire" is a perfect example of that. I'm not a big fan of these movies that market themselves as war movies but end up being some desk officers chase for the truth. They tend to be quite slowpaced and all of a sudden pumped with aggressive discussions between two sides. The opening scene must be one of the most stupid war scenes I've ever witnessed. I'll admit, I'm not a specialist of armoured vehicle battle, but I know something about tactics and planning. I hate illogical scenes that try to be something tense and electrifying. Denzel Washington does a decent portrayal, as always, but Meg Ryan was totally wrongly cast. I've learned to like her in romcoms etc but as an officer very much unconvincing.. Some actors are just typecasted to some specific roles, that's all. I noticed that I started to enjoy the film much more during the last quarter, or so, as the story finally started to get more compelling. But "Courage Under Fire" doesn't step up enough to be something above average.

Jani H
Jani H

Super Reviewer

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