Rules of Engagement
*** GM
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley,
Bruce Greenwood


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There's something really cool about watching carefully constructed wars of words. I've never been on the debate team or anything, but I got a big charge out of "A Few Good Men," and I got some of the same charge with "Rules Of Engagement." Tricky legal maneuverings, verbal sparring in a formal setting, muddy moral waters navigated very carefully - it's all usually pretty interesting to watch. The only problem with courtroom dramas is that there are only two endings - unfairly accused or guilty-as-hell goes free, or gets convicted. It's kinda hard to work towards a surprise that way.

Samuel L. Jackson is a colonel sent to evacuate an ambassador (Ben Kingsley) from Yemen only to wind up in a shootout with angry protestors. Tommy Lee Jones is his best friend and the lawyer that has to try and prove that he didn't just open fire on innocent and peaceful citizens, as the rest of the world believes. Despite evidence to prove he's not a cold-blooded slaughterer, the government wants to scapegoat him to avoid an incident.

Despite the big names, it's Guy Pearce who is really the most fun to watch. Tommy Lee Jones basically just tones down the hardass a bit on his standard character, and Jackson manages to straighten and stiffen up pretty well for his career marine character, although I never quite bought that he viewed his life in the service as the only thing worth living for. Pearce's smooth and confident prosecutor, even though his accent was inexplicable, was played so well that I decided I wouldn't really mind if the prosecution was successful. He DID have all the evidence in his favor. But who thought that Jackson was going to prison? There's always the SLIM chance of an unhappy ending, but those things never get past the test audiences.

It's a good legal drama, though... reminds me why I never want to be involved with the military. It's just kinda hard to get too enthralled when you know how it's going to turn out.

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