Mel Gibson Stars In One Of The Best War Movies And It’s Free To Watch Right Now

Mel Gibson's Vietnam War drama We Were Soldiers is streaming for free on Pluto TV.

By Lyndon Nicholas | Updated

mel gibson
We Were Soldiers

War dramas will always have a place in American cinema, with films like 2022’s All Quiet on the Western Front featuring Daniel Brühl and the upcoming Christopher Nolan-directed Oppenheimer all focusing on different global armed conflicts. One actor who is known for his role in various war dramas is Mel Gibson. Now, according to a Flix Patrol report, Mel Gibson’s Vietnam War action drama We Were Soldiers is available for streaming on PlutoTV.

We Were Soldiers is a war drama featuring Mel Gibson, Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliott, Chris Klein, Keri Russell, Barry Pepper, and Clark Gregg that premiered on February 5th, 2002. It chronicles the first battle between American and North Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War, examining the roles of soldiers on both the American and North Vietnamese sides of the conflict. 

The Mel Gibson movie centers on American Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore, who must lead his troops through the Battle of Ia Drang, also known as “The Valley of Death,” which would become one of the most violent battles in U.S. history. Like the recent Jonathan Majors-led Korean War movie Devotion, the film is based on a true story. During the historical Battle of Ia Drang, Moore reported that about one-third of the enemy force was killed, about 834 enemy bodies, and 1215 estimated KIA, while casualties for US forces numbered at about 18 percent, with about 72 killed out of 395 total forces.

mel gibson

We Were Soldiers was written and directed by Randall Wallace, who is best known for writing the screenplay for 1995’s Braveheart also with Mel Gibson. It is based on the 1992 book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, co-written by Lieutenant General Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway.

Apparently, Wallace was inspired to attempt the movie because of a line from the sourcebook in which Hal Moore states that “Every damn Hollywood movie got [the Vietnam war] wrong.” Although the Mel Gibson-led film is based on the book and the source material, it is not entirely historically accurate and takes some directorial liberties that veer away from actual accounts of the battle. It is also based heavily on American accounts of the conflict, as much of it comes from the perspective of American Hal Moore and American reporter Joseph L. Galloway.

One of the inaccuracies of the film is the dramatic climax which depicts an American charge led by Mel Gibson’s character Hal Moore that destroys the Vietnamese forces and leads to an American victory. In reality, this did not happen, and Vietnamese commander Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Huu An asserts that active combat between his own and American forces continued through to the next day.

Despite the inaccuracies and liberties taken by the film, Moore noted that it was one of the first films to accurately portray the war. The Mel Gibson film has received generally favorable reviews, with a 7.1/10 on IMDb, a 65 out of 100 on Metacritic, and a 64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It grossed $115.4 million worldwide against a $75 million budget.

Mel Gibson is a figure in Hollywood who has been surrounded just as much by controversy as he’s been by critical and commercial success. Mel Gibson’s leading roles in Mad Max and the action-comedy film series Lethal Weapon are both iconic, but it was his involvement in the historical drama Braveheart that garnered him the most critical success. He is also known for directing the controversial The Passion of the Christ, which many saw as promoting Christian fundamentalism but was massively commercially successful.

Mel Gibson has many critics thanks to what many deem as ultraconservative political and social views. Many have called the actor out for what have been deemed racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, and xenophobic remarks that he’s made throughout the years. He’s also received critique because of his frequent run-ins with the law, including for alcohol abuse, drunk driving, and alleged domestic abuse.

Still, for viewers looking for war dramas that focus on the devastations of war and put more human faces on the soldiers involved, We Were Soldiers should definitely be added to their watch lists. Right now, viewers can stream We Were Soldiers for free on Pluto TV, with a Paramount+ subscription, or by renting or purchasing on iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, or Amazon Instant Video.