Starring: Mel Gibson, Barry Pepper, Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear Director: Randall Wallace Category: IIB Randall Wallace wrote the screenplay for the atrocious Pearl Harbor (2001) and that should tell you a lot about We Were Soldiers. He writes again here - as well as directs - and the film is another in what could be a long line of chest-thumping but ultimately hollow forays onto history's (read America's) battlefields. Again, Wallace draws from actual events - the Vietnam War's battle of la Drang Valley in 1965 - and again the film's main fault, although there are many, is its utter lack of passion or even thought. Mel Gibson stars as Lieutenant- Colonel Hal Moore (on whose book the film is based), who leads the first battalion of the Seventh Cavalry - the same battalion once led into glorious ignominy by General Custer. Tough break. It's the early days of the war and the US Army is itching to test some new equipment, the Air Mobile helicopter gunships. And so Gibson's charges are sent forth into the hills with the backing of this new weapon against an enemy they know almost nothing about. Before all this we get the usual training-ground carry on: Gibson is tough but fair; his sergeant major chews bullets for breakfast; there's a wide-eyed, fresh-faced kid who just wants to make the world a better place. And so on and so forth. History shows the US forces, though outnumbered 10 to one, made a heroic stand and actually won the battle. Victory never really seems in doubt in this version of events, however, despite the growing body count. Wallace's unadventurous directing does not help matters either as he relies on the now-standard handheld shots of battle, a few ghastly injuries, and a rousing score to fill the gaps. There's an attempt to show what life was like for the women left behind, which really should have been left alone - it comes across as almost comical. And the casting of Greg Kinnear as the butch chopper pilot ranks among the worst casting decisions in recent memory. One look at him and you know he'd get more frantic looking for a lost mirror than for fallen soldiers. Granted, Gibson does his Brave-heart best to bring some depth to the central role, but the rest of the production never scratches the surface. We Were Soldiers is screening at UA cinemas, the Broadway circuit, AMC Festival Walk and the GV circuit.