Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is a genuine United States war hero. Unfortunately, he has become a raging alcoholic due to all the hideous things he was ordered to do while enlisted in General Custer’s army. In an attempt to change his life, Algren agrees to help the Japanese train to fight a war against a Samurai warrior known as Katsumoto (Ben Watanabe). After only a short while of Algren training the men, he is ordered to take them into battle against their fierce competition. Algren warns Omura (Masato Harada) that his army is not ready, but they are forced to go anyway. The officers Nathan has been training aren’t ready to lead their men, so he leads the army or horseback to the approaching samurai. A fierce battle takes place and Nathan is thrown from his horse. He fights in hand to hand combat and manages to beat one of the samurai. Katsumoto see’s something in our hero and decides to take him prisoner instead of killing him. Algren must now learn the way of the samurai, or die.
Although this movie is about war and general human nature, I honestly feel that Tom Cruise did a phenomenal portraying one man’s struggle in dealing with life. Post traumatic stress syndrome is a very real thing and I was very glad to see an actor of such high caliber play this role. While Tom Cruise did a fine job, every supporting cast member was also amazing. Without them I feel the film would have failed miserably. Another great thing about the film was the way both sides of a story were seen with a seemingly unbiased opinion, a task very difficult to accomplish. The battles largely reminded me of the graphic nature of Braveheart. Director Edward Zwick was a perfect fit for this film. He first showed us his ability to direct an excellent dramatic film with Legends of the Fall, and I hope to see more excellence from him in the future. I give this one a very solid 9/10. This may not be the best film for kids due its graphic nature, but everyone else should thoroughly enjoy the heart wrenching tale of a nations struggle.