A troubled Vietnam veteran goes into self-exile shortly after the war, leaving his wife and young son to wonder if he will ever return. After 10 years of living in Washington's rainforest, he comes back and tries to salva... more »ge his relationship with his son.« less
"I strongly disagree with the common perception of people's opinion with this film. To me, this about a psychological side to the "Rambos," and other one man army type soldiers of war. It shows how deeply troubled they are with the world, and other dilemmas that have occurred with their private lives. I think this story is more of a tale between a son with a father who is mentally ill. I think the Vietnam War is just a story that occurred and had a part of the drama. It's something that just makes this man more interesting in his character. The fact that he was a former Navy Seal unfortunately makes him much more dangerous to the rest of societyI think people dislike films like this the most because they feel uncomfortable being in the face of mental illness. I assume it's much more comfortable for them to turn their back."
A Fair Portrayal
Reginald F. Thibodeau | Jefferson, OR USA | 05/22/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a registered nurse on a VA psych unit that has an in-patient PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) unit, I have to say this film does a pretty good job of portraying the extreme end of the spectrum of veterans who returned from Vietnam. Most civilians can't begin to understand how difficult it was for veterans to be trained and then expected to kill without remorse, expected to withstand the trauma of fearing death on a daily basis, and seeing death on a daily basis, especially of friends, of men they knew. Trying to live a normal life when they could not live with the guilt of having taken life, with the guilt of having survived when others they were close to did not, was often impossible for many surviving vets. Add to that the treatment many received when they returned home, being reviled and spat upon, and you have a recipe for alienation and dysfunction. It took almost thirty years for society - and the VA - to realize these men needed the help that PTSD programs (too few) across the country provide.
Lithgow's character attempts to "come out of the cold", to reintegrate into society, and finds it more difficult than he can bear. He is unable to deal with his son's need to understand, however, when his buddies in "the bush" turn violent in response to an intrusion into their territory, he finds the resources to cope, to do what needs to be done, but then crumbles under his load of guilt. When his son refuses to let him take his own life without his son dying as well, he is forced to make a choice. The film ends with an indication that he has taken a step back into the World, and has made enough of a connection with his son to continue to re-engage. All in all, a pretty fair story."
Been there, done that
Lefty Frizzell | Norfolk, VA (right now) | 11/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Speaking as a disabled vietnam vet with PTSD, I could identify 100% with Lithgow's character. A lot of this acting was wooden...but, that's how some of us are...wooden.
I think this movie leaves with more questions asked than answered. Some of this stuff was typical Hollywood cr*p. But, enough of it rang close to home. Not every namvet goes tripwire. Some integrate totally back into society. Some rejoin partially. Some not at all. This injury affects different people different ways. There is no blanket statement that tell you what it is...and what it is not. Each and every veteran no matter what war is affected by it some way. Directly or guilt by association, we all get tarred with the same brush.
For my generation of Vets, that war will never be over. But,I promise you one thing, I will do everything within my power to insure that these kids coming back don't get put through the same mental ringer that the majority of our friends and families put us through we were forced to slink thru McCord.
There's some good acting here. Too much of it is too close to real for comfort."
Wagner Macedo | CA | 05/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ussualy you see John lithgow in funny roles but he twist his funny side for this dramatic 1988 movie called "distant thunder" and Ralph macchio plays his long lost son that he didnt even kne he had after lithgow comes back from vietnam with his troubled godawfull nam memoris. I highly recommend."
Robert A. Olds | cleve. oh. | 10/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another great movie by John Lithgow.He plays the part of the ex Viet Nam Vet very well.Any vet that served in Nam can understand why some broke off from society and went to the state of Washington to hide in the woods,which is true."