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At the beginning of 21 Bridges Det. Andre Davis has to attend a hearing, presumably for killing on duty. He is called out for supposedly using his gun too often but he stands to it and believes he was right in every case and then says:

During the Civil War, some soldiers just kept loading their muskets without ever firing. Five or six balls loaded on top of each other. In Vietnam, only 30% of frontline infantry soldiers ever fired a shot. So, ten soldiers in battle, only three truly fighting...What do you imagine the other seven were doing?

But it is not clear to me what the answer to this rhetorical question is supposed to be. What is he trying to say with this analogy? Presumably he is one of the 30% who "truly fight", but I can't imagine that he's implying that the soldiers who didn't fight didn't do anything, rather on the contrary. But if he's trying to say they prepared for war or did their part in it, it's not clear to me how that is supporting his case or what point about his behaviour that is supposed to make.

While the funeral at the start as well as Andre's talk of justice transports a very old-testamentarian vibe and he certainly is intoduced as a man who means serious business, it is also made clear throughout the movie that contrary what everyone thinks of him he's not a hot-head driven by revenge for his father and doesn't actually kill if it isn't necessary. But I'm also unsure if that first hearing scene is supposed to guide us on the wrong track that everyone else is on about him being a "trigger" or "out for justice" or if that dialogue is already trying to fight that prejudice and show that he's a "good guy".

So what answer does he expect on that question about the soldiers who didn't fight and what point about his character and his actions is he (and ultimately the film) trying to make there?

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  • Is it the pseudo-statistic that bothers you per se (as with all this type of thing, it's "made up on the spot" roughly based on some weak historical research on WWII behaviour) or simply the conclusion he expects you to draw from it? I would assume the conclusion is "He's not one to stand around when, in his own judgement, shooting needs to happen " but I can't back that up with hard evidence. – Tetsujin Jan 26 at 11:23
  • @Tetsujin The latter. I don't really care if he says the truth, since as you say, it's made up on the spot to get his point across. That point is what I'm not sure about. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 26 at 11:28
  • Then I can only speculate that it's "I'm not one of those nn%. I fire when I deem it necessary." presumably as a challenge to do what you will as punishment for doing his duty as he sees it. But, as I say, that's just my guess, no data to back it up. I don't think the precise actions of the other 7 are really relevant,, & like you, I'm not sure why he felt the need to add that. – Tetsujin Jan 26 at 11:33
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    I found this article which does cover what they may have been doing if not firing; it also questions the weak research - historynet.com/… It makes me no more certain as to what the character's point may have been. – Tetsujin Jan 26 at 11:41

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