Mel Gibson and Barry Pepper play characters representing Lieutenant Colonel Harold Moore and journalist Joseph Galloway, who were on the front lines of the Vietnam war and together wrote the book on which this movie is based. In the Ia Drang valley Gibson grimly leads his men into a battle he believes they can’t win, but the outcome is unexpected. Though the questionable motives and bad planning of offscreen characters who far outrank Gibson make it difficult to take at face value one soldier’s last words—“I’m glad I could die for my country”—some viewers will, which may be as the filmmakers intended. Written and directed by Randall Wallace. 138 min.