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Casualties of War does not have end credit scenes.

Casualties of War

Casualties of War

1989

In the midst of war-torn chaos, a family's fragile bonds are shattered by the complexities of the domestic relations court. As the adults' conflicts escalate, innocent children become pawns in a bitter struggle for control, their lives forever changed by the casualties of war and the flaws of a system designed to fail them.

Runtime: 113 min

Box Office: $19M

Language:

Directors:

Genres:

Ratings:

Metacritic

75

Metascore

5.3

User Score

Metacritic

71.0

%

User Score

Check out what happened in Casualties of War!

The narrative unwinds as a poignant flashback courtesy of Max Eriksson (actor name), a battle-hardened Vietnam veteran haunted by the memories of war. As we delve into the past, Lieutenant Reilly leads his platoon of American soldiers on a perilous nighttime patrol, their presence betrayed when an erratic soldier inadvertently reveals their position to the Viet Cong (VC). In the ensuing chaos, Eriksson's squad leader, Sergeant Tony Meserve, valiantly rescues him from the jaws of death as a VC tunnel collapses beneath his feet. The platoon regroups outside a tranquil river village in the Central Highlands, where camaraderie and jests momentarily mask the harsh realities of war.

However, their brief respite is shattered when Specialist 4 "Brownie" Brown's lifeless body is discovered, victim to an unexpected Viet Cong ambush. This devastating loss weighs heavily on Meserve, a blow that resonates throughout the platoon. In its aftermath, Private First Class Antonio Dìaz arrives as the new radio operator, replacing a fallen comrade.

As tensions simmer, Eriksson's growing frustration with his squad's prolonged leave denial boils over, prompting him to voice concerns that fall on deaf ears. Meserve, Corporal Thomas E. Clark, and Private First Class Herbert Hatcher conspire to kidnap a Vietnamese girl, Tran Thi Oanh, while Eriksson's pleas for reason are ignored by those around him. The squad's nighttime excursion culminates in the abduction of Tran, an act that sets the stage for the moral crisis that will unfold.

As the days pass, Dìaz begins to question his role in the unfolding tragedy, ultimately seeking Eriksson's support in resisting the pressure to perpetuate violence against Tran. However, his resolve is tested as the squad takes refuge in a decrepit hooch, where Meserve's ruthless coercion forces Eriksson to stand guard outside while the others commit unspeakable acts of brutality. In this darkest of hours, Eriksson stands alone, his humanity and compassion pitted against the unyielding cruelty of war.

With dawn breaking, Eriksson is tasked with guarding Tran as the rest of the squad takes up position near a crucial railroad bridge overlooking a Viet Cong river supply depot. Through his actions of kindness, Eriksson slowly earns Tran's trust, secretly plotting to abandon his post and return her to the safety of her family. Yet, just as fate seems poised to align in their favor, Meserve dispatches Clark to retrieve Eriksson and Tran, thwarting any hope of escape or redemption. As the story hurtles toward its conclusion, Eriksson finds himself trapped in a maelstrom of chaos and despair, his ultimate fate hanging precariously in the balance.

As the chaos unfolds, Meserve instructs Dìaz to summon air support for an assault on the depot, followed by a chilling order to end Tran's life with a knife. Before the brutal act can be carried out, Eriksson (actor name) intervenes by firing his rifle into the air, inadvertently exposing their position to the nearby Viet Cong. Amidst the ensuing firefight, Tran attempts to flee, despite being repeatedly pierced by Clark. Eriksson desperately tries to save her, but Meserve brutally cuts him down with the butt of his gun. Helpless and horrified, Eriksson watches as the entire squad mercilessly rains bullets upon Tran until she succumbs to her mortal wounds, plummeting off the bridge to her untimely demise.

Following this brutal encounter, Eriksson awakens in a makeshift hospital at the military base, where he eventually crosses paths with Rowan. He recounts the events that transpired, and Rowan suggests seeking guidance from Reilly and Captain Hill, their company commander. Both Reilly and Hill prefer to sweep the matter under the rug, but Hill's ire is piqued by Eriksson's unwavering determination to expose the truth. Hill decides to eliminate Eriksson by transferring him to a tunnel rat unit, accompanied by his comrades in Meserve's squad.

Eriksson narrowly escapes an attempt on his life while using the latrine, as Clark attempts to take him out with a grenade. Enraged and defiant, Eriksson bursts into a tent and confronts Clark, reminding Meserve that killing him would be unnecessary, since no one cares about their heinous deeds. Meserve, shaken and defensive, labels Eriksson as crazy, prompting Eriksson to depart.

Eriksson then confides in an Army chaplain at a bar, recounting the events of the fateful patrol. The chaplain reports the incident, triggering an investigation that ultimately leads to the court-martial of the four perpetrators: Meserve receives 10 years of hard labor and a dishonorable discharge, Clark is sentenced to life imprisonment, while Hatcher and Dìaz receive 15 and 8 years of hard labor respectively.

As the film reaches its conclusion, Eriksson awakens from a haunting nightmare to find himself on a J-Church transit line in San Francisco, mere seats away from a Vietnamese-American student who bears an uncanny resemblance to Tran. She disembarks at Dolores Park, forgetting her scarf, prompting Eriksson to pursue her to return the lost item. As she thanks him and departs, he calls out to her in Vietnamese. She senses that she reminds him of someone and that he has had a distressing dream. They part ways, and Eriksson finds solace in the knowledge that justice has been served.