A widower and father of seven (Mel Gibson) tries to stay out of the Revolutionary War but ends up fighting for independence after one of his children is murdered. The point that you can refuse to take sides in a war until it’s being fought in your backyard is made in small-scale bloodbaths leading up to imposing battle scenes that evoke a life-size chess game until they erupt in chaos. Unlike the grossly overrated Saving Private Ryan, also written by Robert Rodat, this action drama makes its characters—not just its audience—the primary witnesses of its sensationally grisly events. And its corny dialogue and only slightly twisted plot seem self-aware; the movie doesn’t try too hard to be anything other than a vicarious experience that makes you crave the satisfaction you know you’ll get when the hero gets his revenge. Directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day).