Hamburger Hill is the story of a squad of soldiers ordered to take a “strategically important hill” in Vietnam.
Overshadowed by its contemporaries Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, this is a very creditable account of the Vietnam war viewed day to day by soldiers fighting a pointless and bloody battle for a grid reference. It’s essentially an analogy of the whole war, as the characters are dehumanized, traumatized and butchered by a largely unseen enemy for reasons it’s difficult to fathom. The structure of the film is basically a series of brutally realistic and mud-soaked battle sequences punctuated by the soldiers bonding and discussing the various politics involved in their being there. This does come across as a little dry and emotionally uninvolving by its very nature as there is little point and therefore plot to the action; obviously a glorious victory is not forthcoming.
A young Don Cheadle and particularly Courtney Vance as the likeable and politically outspoken Doc are the stand outs of an otherwise no-name cast, and it is an intelligent and honest depiction of men at war that’s well worth a look if you enjoyed its contemporaries.