Hayes Hodges finds his career aspirations dashed when he’s wounded in Vietnam combat. He then returns to America and becomes a disillusioned lawyer who goes up against the service to defend Colonel Terry Childers, who is accused of inciting an incident that leaves many demonstrators dead. Hodges in no position to decline: Childers heroically saved his life back in Vietnam.
User Reviews: "Rules of Engagement" is NOT "A Few Good Men." But it is also not the travesty that many reviews have made it out to be. The film was released in 2000, prior to the events of 9/11/2001 in New York City. Much has transpired since then, and Americans are slowly coming to the realization that, while not all Muslims hate us, the haters are all Muslims. And that is becoming increasingly significant, especially given the results of the 2016 election. "Rules of Engagement" takes a crack at explaining how difficult it is to fight Muslim extremists, whose tactics violate all the "rules" of warfare. Muslim extremist gunmen constantly use "innocent" civilians as shields, knowing full well that American troops will find it difficult to shoot back. "Rules of Engagement" revolves around this dilemma. Considering when it was produced and exhibited, this was not destined to be well received. Screenwriter Stephen Gagnan and story writer Jim Webb (yes, that Jim Webb) are not fanatics; their resumes show them both to be thoughtful and respected. It is unlikely they would be telling a story they did not believe in, just as director William Friedkin would not be bringing it to the screen if he did not believe it had a valid point to make. Before 9/11, the pacifist persuasion in the United States was imposing a heavy hand of deterrence on the American military. "Rules of Engagement" basically advocates that the enemy has to be taken out, even if it means collateral damage. Of course this elicited hoots of derision in 2000. A year or more later, with a lot of collateral damage in downtown New York, the reaction would undoubtedly have been much different. Many reviews have pointed out inconsistencies, factual errors, glib script devices, even casting anomalies. True, but inconsequential. "Rules of Engagement" is intended to point out the folly of the United States’ approach to its enemies in a war unlike any other – a war we are still fighting 16 years later. It made its point, just a year too soon.