“Rules of Engagement” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones showed audiences intense military courtroom drama and the unbreakable bond that develops between two Marines in combat.
But it didn’t get everything right. While WATM has picked apart everything from “The Hurt Locker” to “Top Gun,” we figured it was worth digging into the technical errors here as well. There’s plenty this film accurately depicts. These are 35 times where they got it wrong.
1:47 Why does Childers have a smoke grenade right on the shoulder he fires from? You might want to put that on your non-firing side. You can actually see him struggle a bit when he tries to put his rifle into his shoulder.
4:30 After Hodges’ platoon hears enemy fire on Childers’ position, they just stand around in the middle of a swamp. It might be a good idea to get down behind some cover or turn outward to investigate.
(Before we hit the next ones, let’s explain proper radio procedures. When calling up another unit over the radio, the procedure is “You, this is me, here’s what I want to say, over.” Like: “Bravo 6, this is Bravo 2, what’s your position? Over.”)
4:32 Radio operator says, “Delta two, what’s your SITREP over?” Then he says “Delta One, Delta Two, SITREP, over.” In the first transmission, he’s implying he’s Delta One, and asking Delta Two for a report. Then in the next, he calls them Delta One, and he says he’s Delta Two.
4:40 He gets a response back from the other radio operator which explains that Childers’ platoon is Delta Two, and Hodges’ is Delta One: “Two, one, contact, over.” This response also deserves the Capt. Obvious award. The other platoon might want to know where the other platoon is so they can help.
4:48 What’s the deal with this NVA soldier behind no cover in the middle of a firefight, not aimed in, just sitting there? That is up until the last moment when he decides to aim at the Americans and then he gets immediately shot.
5:30 The other platoon has literally not moved from their original position. Cover and/or concealment aren’t really a concern. Then of course, 10 seconds later the NVA starts shooting.
6:22 Hodges picks up the radio, calls no one in particular, then says “Other side of the tree line. I’m in the water unable to withdraw.” There are a lot of trees out there, brah. Can you give us a better description so we can help you?
6:28 He continues: “Unable to withdraw! I’m calling in a fire mission on this position.” Who the hell is he talking to? And how is artillery going to drop when they don’t have a grid, distance, direction, or anything other than “hey I’m by this tree line and there’s water.”
6:35 “Hurry up and drop that f—king arty!” he says, to no one in particular, to whom he’s given no information on where it should be dropped. In fairness, he’s under a bit of stress.
7:11 When Childers kills the Vietnamese radio operator with his 1911 .45 caliber pistol, it makes the same sound an M1 Garand makes when it’s out of ammo. This makes no sense.
9:38 Col. Hodges apparently is like, “screw this. I’m not getting a haircut anymore.”
9:49 Hodges puts on his garrison cap like he’s a private just learning how to wear it at boot camp. Not an officer with 32 years of service.
10:20 Hodges’ marksmanship badges are out toward the sides. They are supposed to be centered over the pocket with only 3/4-inch space between them.
10:37 Pretty much everyone has this problem.
11:12 Col. Childers also hates Marine Corps haircuts.
11:47 Childers retells the story of Marine Lt. Presley O’Banion, which is pretty close to Lt. Presley O’Bannon.
14:30 The 24th MEU is on the USS Wake Island. However, the USS Wake Island (CVE-65) was a World War II escort carrier commissioned in 1943 and decommissioned in 1946.
15:09 The Wake Island’s captain wears a hat that says USS Wake Island (LHA-7). LHA-7, which is the newly-commissioned USS Tripoli, didn’t exist at the time of this movie.
15:16 Col. Childers has a subdued American flag on his shoulder. This is an Army thing. Marines don’t ever wear this (although it’s possible a MEU commander could say otherwise).
15:45 I know this would kill the rest of the movie and courtroom drama, but why is the MEU Commander, a colonel, going on a TRAP (tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel) mission? There’s a captain in charge of the mission who is more than capable.
18:17 The two Marine CH-46 helicopters just turned into Army CH-47 helicopters.
19:19 After hearing the command of “lock and load” in the helicopter, the Marine closest to the camera hits his magazine first on his helmet, then jams it into his weapon, thus perpetuating the myth to future troops that this move is ever acceptable or even necessary.
22:10 Col. Childers is wearing his silver rank centered on his flak jacket under his neck. This isn’t where it is placed, and officers and enlisted alike wear black-colored rank when in the field. Unless they enjoy being shot by snipers. Then by all means, keep it there.
22:22 The Marine Security Guards on the roof are wielding Mossberg 590 Combat shotguns to defend the embassy. What?
27:16 So he’s an ambassador and he likely doesn’t have any clue, but he ends up giving the worst salute ever. And it makes us laugh every time.
29:00 After Capt. Lee and Col. Childers have their disagreement over whether there are weapons in the crowd, Capt. Lee finally relents and orders his men: “Engage! Engage! Open fire!”
They then proceed to all jump out from behind cover, take a knee, and spray and pray all over the place into the crowd. This is seconds after snipers were shooting at them from across the way.
29:05 That light machine-gun you think is an M249 SAW is actually a Korean-made Daewoo K3 light machine gun.
29:42 Col. Childers displays great leadership by example by standing up exposed and yelling to his men, “There may still be snipers out there. Stay down!”
38:57 The general says “we’ve got a trial in two weeks” to Maj. Biggs, although previously, at 36:20, Gen. Perry tells Childers that the court-martial convenes in 8 days.
45:42 Hey, let’s have a meeting to discuss our legal case in a gym where a bunch of Marines are wrestling.
1:35:50 As evening colors begins, a bunch of people are not standing at the position of attention, to include the Marines who are part of the color detail.
1:38:42 When asked about his citation for the Navy Cross, Col. Childers just repeats back what is the typical ending of the award, which tells nothing more of why he received it: “for conspicuous gallantry in the face of great personal danger, reflecting great credit upon himself, the United States Marine Corps and the Naval Service.”
1:58:56 Earlier in the movie, Col. Hodges asks Maj. Biggs what the life expectancy was for a second lieutenant dropped into a hot landing zone in Vietnam in 1968. Biggs guesses two weeks, then at end of the movie he says one week, to which Hodges finally reveals the answer of “sixteen minutes.” Based on Vietnam casualty data, this statistic is not even mathematically possible.
1:59:21 It’s Camp Lejeune. It has big fences around it. So why is there a huge crowd of reporters standing right outside a military courtroom?
2:00:05 Col. Childers goes and walks right between a formation and the platoon sergeant. Thanks a lot, sir!
It gets way worse…