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What So Proudly We Hail

Sure, The Patriot is mawkish nationalism disguised as summer entertainment, but we'll wave the flag anyway

Gabriel's trumpet: Heath Ledger (right) 
as Benjamin Martin's son gradually drags his reluctant father (Mel Gibson) into the Revolutionary War.
Andrew Cooper
Gabriel's trumpet: Heath Ledger (right) as Benjamin Martin's son gradually drags his reluctant father (Mel Gibson) into the Revolutionary War.

Still, this is a testosterone movie, and the women will probably be happy staring at Mel. In all his films, Emmerich seems to fetishize the boys in green (think of Kurt Russell in Stargate, Will Smith in ID4 and Doug Savant in Godzilla), so the story of the original U.S. military is a natural for him. Gibson turns in a great performance, closer to his brooding, wronged heroes of the '80s than the ego-tripping of Braveheart. His children look a little squeaky-clean for the period, especially their gleamingly perfect teeth, but what did I say earlier? Forget about historical accuracy. See this movie, then go home, raise the flag, set off some fireworks, and char some meat. God bless America.

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