review for Courage Under Fire on AllMovie

Courage Under Fire (1996)
by Robert Firsching review

Meg Ryan pulls off a very difficult role in this Gulf War-set inquiry into the nature of truth. As a nominee for the first posthumous medal of honor to be granted to a woman, Ryan's character is seen in various flashbacks, Rashomon-style, as entirely different people. Denzel Washington is the troubled veteran handling the investigation into whether Ryan's actions deserved the medal, and he talks to several people, each of whom tells a different story about her final actions. Both Ryan and Washington are terrific, ably supported by Michael Moriarty, Scott Glenn, and Matt Damon, among others, and the result is an engrossing and challenging film. The best part is Edward Zwick's deft direction, which keeps all of the differing perspectives open as viable options. Too many times in this sort of film, certain versions of events are presented which couldn't possibly be true. Here, one person could be telling the truth, or everyone could.