Rules of Engagement Home
Training Thoughts on the Production
Rules of Engagement--The Facts Behind the Story
This basic story in this film was based on an original script by Jim Webb, a former Marine officer and Navy Cross winner from Vietnam who once served as Secretary of the Navy. Jim was unhappy with the changes made by Director William Friedkin, Producer Dick Zanuk, the Marine Corps Public Affairs Office in LA and myself. In long, grueling story conferences over several months, we reached an agreement to change the basic story and that caused some turmoil but everyone involved on the Production level felt it was necessary to make these changes.
The story hinges on actions taken by a Marine MEU Commander (Samuel L. Jackson) when a rescue team from his unit is called into Senaa, Yemen to rescue a panicky U.S. Ambassador (Ben Kingsley) from an angry mob that is surrounding the embassy. Things get ugly fast when the Marines arrive on the scene by helicopter from their ships at sea and several Americans are killed or wounded by shooters in the crowd. The MEU Commander orders his troops to open fire on the crowd and a bloodbath ensues.
The Yemenis use the incident to spread anti-American sentiment and Cabinet Members of the U.S. government, under international pressure, order a full investigation. The resultant General Court-Martial pits a sharp young Marine lawyer (Guy Pearce) against a salty but inexperienced old Marine lawyer (Tommy Lee Jones) who was a friend of the MEU Commander when both were young platoon leaders in Vietnam.