Washington and Zwick reteamed seven years after Glory to tackle another American war–the Gulf War–in the non-fact-based “Courage Under Fire,” and the results were no less powerful. Washington’s performance here is perhaps even better than his Oscar-grabbing Glory turn; as Lt. Col. Nat Serling, who is assigned to investigate the life and work of late Medal of Honor candidate Capt. Karen Walden (Meg Ryan), Washington gives a devastatingly internal performance, subtly yet colorfully conveying the many personal demons that haunt him as he goes about his task. Patrick Sheane Duncan’s script deftly weaves together the stories of Serling and Walden, and Zwick remarkably sidesteps the trap of sticky sentiment–an idea further carried forth by Ryan’s admirably against-type (and shamefully unsung) performance.
Despite the film’s strong critical reception, “Courage” failed to earn a single Academy Award nomination; Fox’s just-recently released DVD, however, should be a potent reminder over the years of what a notable accomplishment the film is. The film and audio has been digitally remastered to the THX specifications, and a DTS track is included along with 5.1 Dolby Digital, making the disc a terrific alternative to seeing the film on the big screen.
Supplements, however, are on the shallow end. Zwick offers a commentary, but his laid-back style hurts more here than it did on the Glory disc. By his own admission, he had not seen “Courage” in a number of years, so there are numerous instances of extended silence where he was obviously caught up in the viewing experience. Since there are no real historical details to impart, in between basic technical explanations he gives fairly redundant praise to his actors, particularly Washington. The theatrical trailer, all the TV spots, and an EPK-derived behind-the-scenes featurette round out the slim pickings.
Specifications: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; English DTS; English 5.1 Surround; English and French Dolby Surround; English and Spanish subtitles.