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Rules Of Engagement  

Colonel Hays Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones)
Colonel Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson)
Major Mark Biggs (Guy Pearce)
General Hodges (Philip Baker Hall)
Ambassador Mourain (Ben Kingsley)
Advisor William Sokal (Bruce Greenwood)
Directed by William Friedkin Written by Stephen Gaghan
Rated R for scenes of war violence and language
Running Time: 123 minutes Distributed by Paramount

Rules of Engagement
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Rules of Engagement is a splendid and gripping film. The film centers on the relationship of two marine colonels, Hays Hodges (Jones) and Terry Childers (Jackson). Both became friends during the Vietnam War, where Childers saved Hodges in a tragic combat situation. Years pass along, Hodges is now a lawyer and Childers is a marine leader. Childers is chosen to lead a rescue mission into Yemen, where the U.S. embassy is under threat from angry demonstrators. After Childers, safely evacuates U.S. Ambassador Mourain (Kingsley), Childers orders his men to fire on a crowd of civilians, who he believes shot and killed three of his marines. When Childers gets back to the U.S., he is faced with a court martial for killing 83 unarmed civilians, including women and children. Childers denies the charge by contending that the protestors were armed and open fired on his men. But it appears that the government believes that Childers is the reason for an ugly diplomatic crisis. Childers refuses to go down and he turns to his longtime friend, Colonel Hays Hodges to be his attorney in the case.

Rules of Engagement is a entertaining and smart film that will give audiences something to cheer about after the recent failed adult Hollywood films like Mission to Mars and The Beach.

Legendary filmmaker William Friedkin does an exceptional job of directing Rules of Engagement. Friedkin's previous credits include, The Exorcist and The French Connection. Friedkin keeps the juices boiling and the intensity flowing from beginning to end.

The script by Stephen Gaghan is pretty sharp and to the point. The only aspects that I found troubling were some of the little subplots. An example is the disappearance of Hodges' attempt to get the U.S. Ambassador's wife on the stand. Overall, I did like the script.

All I can say about Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson is that they are both awesome in this film. It is a real treat to watch these two actors work together with fury and believable chemistry. This film would not have the same impact without either one of these actors in it. The supporting cast is also admirable behind Jones and Jackson's dominance. Guy Pearce does a great job as the strict prosecutor Major Mark Biggs. I also noticed that Pearce held his northern accent through the whole film, just like he kept his accent in L.A. Confidential as Ed Exley. This just makes him more impressive as an actor because Pearce is Australian. Bruce Greenwood bounces back strongly from his dead performance in Here on Earth to being the true villain, National Security Advisor William Sokel, in Rules of Engagement.

This film will make money and might turn out to be one of the biggest hits of the spring. It is a good adult film, which means that a good word of mouth will get going and eventually lead this film to staying strong at the box office.

Report Card Grade: B

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