I did not want to like this movie
TJ-STL | St Louis | 03/13/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was in the USAF during those late 60's and we had it much easier in many ways. Marines and Grunts were expendable and like Tom Cruise (the tragic hero Ron Kovic) I first HATED the protestors and when I got back to the Nation I first HATED the lack of respect for the debt our country and military men paid even more. Like our hero Kovic after many years I started to see the stupidity of the "War we did not try to win (not bombing Hanoi and the dams to flood the country) and the lack of justification to pay the price or to be there". This movie made me ashamed I did not stay gun ho or re-enlist and to go back to fight for the friends I lost but thanked God I go out in one piece. One negitive point that hunts this film is Oliver Stone's failure to spend enough to really capture the heat, sweat, loneliness, helplessness and fruitlessness of the war and the real reasons for being in the Nam that only Fahrenheit 911 exposed."
Arguably the Best Anti-War Movie I've Seen!
Scotman | Mt. Shasta, CA | 07/06/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
Oliver Stone along with co-writer Ron Kovic created an anti-war movie based on Kovic's autobiography of his experiences in Vietnam, Kovic's idealism degenerating into the cold hard reality and depths of despair, only to rise again in finding his purpose in stopping the war in Vietnam.
Though this film was made in 1989, a lot of what was being said ("if you're not for the war, then you're unpatriotic, etc.) was also being said of current war protestors in America's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan 20+ years later.
Hot off his film Platoon, Stone creates a character of Kovic (magnificently played by Tom Cruise at the height of his powers as an actor) -- a young, Catholic boy who dreams of battles and guns, fighting a war to be like his dad and other military vets.
It's interesting the balance between patriotism and protest -- Stone really takes a sledgehammer view in putting across this point.
Kovic has a demanding mother and a weak father. Mom demands perfection from him and puts all this glory and demand on him that he could not hope to live up to. Joining the Marines may be that chance. Great scene of Kovic running into the senior prom soaking wet from a thunderstorm to see his girl. How romantic.
The romance ends and the war begins. The atrocities of killing a Vietnamese family that the commander mistakenly thought were soldiers with guns, the echo of the baby crying held in the arms of his dead mother; the accidental death of his Georgian friend, create disillusionment with Kovic and the horrors of war to the point of disgust on the part of the audience.
Great Scenes of Pity, Sympathy and Death:
I won't rewrite the whole plot here, but there were some important scenes that bear repeating. The townsfolk welcome him back, but with a hesitancy. The insincere "You're looking good!" is prominent as well as the underlying disgust with Vietnam vets, who came back to a country that was not proud to have them back.
As in the Fourth of July parade where the vets were being cheered, the Vietnam vet Kovic was being jeered by protestors of the Vietnamese war. Ironically, he becomes a protestor himself, as he lives through a few riots, a drunken brawl or two in Mexico, and the rejection of his family and friends, creating a downward spiral of prostitution, alcoholism and despair.
One scene where he realizes that he's killed a family and the baby's echoing cries create a haunting memory he never shakes off. Another, when he visits the family of the soldier he accidentally killed -- the government lying, not saying he died by friendly fire, but that he died "with distinction" -- was intense and revealing.
Another great scene that really shows Tom Cruise's range is when he confronts the Republican National Convention in 1972. (Actually I remember watching that on TV -- "four more years" indeed!). The shouting, the struggle -- Stone really creates a monster and a thug out of the police and the government under Nixon.
The Bottom Line:
A very strong, visceral film where Stone pulls no punches in his political and social commentary against Vietnam and not wanting us to get involved in another Vietnam -- a story of heroism, degradation and honor. Won 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 14 nominations.
Perhaps we should air this film in Congress. It might have an effect!