YMMV / The Pentagon Wars

  • Harsher in Hindsight: As much Black Comedy as the development of the Bradley provides, it is not a patch on the fiasco that is the F35. Unlike the Bradley, it looks like there is no Colonel Burton for the Pentagon's newest attempt at getting its own troops killed.
  • Artistic License Geography: No, Normal, Illinois is not 'just outside of Chicago'.
  • Artistic License Gun Safety: Averted. Despite being an Air Force lieutenant colonel, Cary Elwes remembers to keep his finger off the trigger of the M-16 he holds during his speech, even though the rifle is unloaded. The corporal who hands it to him also visibly checks the chamber for a round before handing it over to him.
  • Artistic License History: The movie glosses over some of the central points of the book, particularly with regards to the broader context of the Pentagon at the time with the "Reformer Movement."
    • The movie glosses over the development of what was actually several IFV prototypes such as the XM 800 T, implying there was one direct line of evolution rather than a gradual evolution of expected capabilities caused by the failure or cancellation of other projects.
    • It also glosses over a lot of the conflict regarding the testing procedure, one-sidedly portraying it as an effort to cover up flaws rather than a sincere disagreement on the style of testing used. For instance, testing individual components such as armor plates under laboratory conditions was considered more yielding of scientifically-useful data, even if it was less visible in-context what that data really meant.
  • Artistic License Military: The real Colonel Burton was a full colonel, not a lieutenant colonel. The director felt Cary Elwes was too young to be a convincing colonel, but it leads to an unusual case where a lieutenant colonel is telling off four-star generals.
  • Author Tract: The movie goes to length to portray the Pentagon's acquisitions process as corrupt, ineffective, and flawed. The original book was a nonfiction tell-all whistleblower piece about this exact subject. But...
    • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: If the testing process had not exposed the Bradley's flaws to Congress, American soldiers would've ridden a deathtrap into battle in Desert Storm and been killed.
  • Complete Monster: Partridge does not even begin to show the slightest hesitation at approving a deeply flawed deathtrap if it'll get him his fourth star. As an Army general, he knows perfectly well the kind of infantry that would ride that vehicle into battle. It is made abundantly clear that he does not care.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The corrupt generals who prioritize their career attend swanky black-tie parties and have nice private offices, and then go on to cushy high-paying defense contracting jobs. The officers who do the right thing but make trouble in doing so get buried in paperwork, Reassigned To Alaska, and then forced into early retirement.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Dan Florek as an Army general with hilarious contradictory standards for the Bradley's development. He comes off like a kid in a candy store obsessed with the next cool idea they can put on the vehicle.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Burton steals the armored door off an ammo dump in order to test the Romanian anti-tank rocket. The only reason he gets away with destruction of government property is nobody in a position to court-martial him over it wants to call attention to the substandard munitions they had been using in testing. Basically, he dared them to do something about it knowing it would blow the lid off their cover-up as well.
  • Rewatch Bonus: In the scene where Col. Burton gives a speech to the enlisted men maintaining the Bradley towards the end, he's attempting to persuade them to ignore their orders and prepare the Bradley to combat specification (including ammunition, fuel in the tanks, lacking fire retardant sealant, et cetera), ignorant of the fact they already did so. On rewatch, it's clear a few people try to interrupt him and the rest know what he's getting at long before he makes his point, but they just decide to roll with it when he keeps talking.