Courage Under Fire

1996 R 1h 57m DVD

Courage Under Fire

1996 R 1h 57m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
While investigating the death of chopper pilot Capt. Karen Walden to verify whether she's posthumously worthy of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Lt. Col. Serling hears conflicting stories about her service and works to uncover the truth.
Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Lou Diamond Phillips, Michael Moriarty, Matt Damon, Bronson Pinchot, Seth Gilliam, Regina Taylor, Zeljko Ivanek, Scott Glenn, Tim Guinee, Tim Ransom, Sean Astin, Armand Darrius
Edward Zwick
Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
English, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 16+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 16+
age 16+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that violence and death in this war drama includes gunfire casualties at close range (with blood), a helicopter crash, and a car wreck -- the latter actually being a suicide. One character is a drug addict, and the hero has a drinking problem (but seems to kick the habit). Swearing is R-level, with the f-bomb and the c-bomb dropped on a few significant occasions, and there's one use of an anti-Arab slur. The script is not exactly anti-military, but lethally mutinous actions happen, and undercurrents persist of generals and Pentagon spin doctors covering up and suppressing the truth.

Sexual Content

One off-color reference about "humping cheerleaders." Hunky guys in a locker room.


Battlefield violence includes characters set on fire and shot at close range and bleeding. There is a spectacular, explosive suicide via car-train collision.


The s-word, the f-word, "ass," "Jesus Christ," the c-word (as pertaining to females), the racist slur "ragheads."

Social Behavior

The military setting brings out themes of the slippery nature of "truth" in battle heroics and taking responsibility for one's actions -- even in a desperate situation under dangerous enemy fire. Along with it is the idea of sacrifice, bereaved families, and under-the-radar grief in war causalities (the hero snubs a Presidential ceremony to instead privately comfort a lost soldier's grieving relatives).


The hero uses Apple laptops.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Characters smoke. Serling drinks to steady his nerves after combat flashbacks and is accused/blackmailed about being an alcoholic. Soldiers in a VA hospital take pills and IV medication, sometimes to excess. One character confesses to being an IV drug abuser (which may or may not have been a consequence of war trauma).

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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