Yes, this film is about as formulaic as they come: a tough, no-nonsense, battle-tested sergeant turning a bunch of misfits into an effective fighting unit. On top of that, we are treated (again) to a romantic aspect of a story featuring a bitter, petulant ex-wife who still harbors emotional attachment to that no-good ex of hers.
Yet HEARTBREAK RIDGE delivers an entertaining story--along with some very amusing moments--thanks mainly to Clint Eastwood as the gravel-voiced Gunnery Sergeant Tom "Gunny" Highway. Sure, Eastwood brings brawn and plenty of knuckle sandwiches to this role, but also a fragile vulnerability that makes the character more three-dimensional. Eastwood carries this film, but that's no problem: those shoulders are plenty broad.
Marsha Mason as ex-wife Aggie gripes and complains at a healthy clip, while Mario Van Peebles as soldier "Stitch" Jones stands out from the rest of Gunny's dysfunctional Recon Platoon. HEARTBREAK RIDGE has action, drama, and plenty of laughs. Sounds like a winning Eastwood formula to me.