Based entirely on the sum of its star-studded parts, expectations were running high ahead of the blockbuster thriller’s release. rules of engagement in April 2000, but the end result was a colossal disappointment on several levels for a variety of different reasons.
Directed by the Academy Award winner The Exorcist Y the french connection William Friedkin, the screenplay marked the screenwriting debut of Stephen Gaghan, who would go on to win his own Oscar for writing the Steven Soderbergh film. Trafficwhich hit theaters just eight months later.
Facing the camera, heavyweights Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones lead a cast that also featured Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Bruce Greenwood and many more, with a budget of $60 million and timely thematic inspirations they paint. the image of an intelligent, complex, crowd pleaser.
Instead, rules of engagement was heavily criticized for its borderline offensive storytelling, with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee calling it “probably the most racist film ever made against Arabs by Hollywood”, though Friedkin would refute those claims in favor of calling his film “jingoistic”. ” instead.
In this case, the controversy did not generate cash, as the film tanked hard after trading just $71 million in tickets, resulting in a huge loss for the Paramount studio. Yet more than 20 years after its release, and the polarizing exploration of a Navy veteran on trial for a rescue mission gone terribly wrong continues to stir up conversation, with Redditors weighing the pros and cons of the controversial movie.
The performances are still strong, but there’s an air of unease to some of the characters’ feelings and points that’s even more galling given how much the world has changed in the last 22 years, leaving rules of engagement as little more than a forgotten footnote in the history of cinema.