innocent_man: (l&o&b)
[personal profile] innocent_man
A Few Good Men is a military/courtroom drama based on the play by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollack, Keifer Sutherland and J. T. Walsh. Like everything Sorkin does, it's very dialog heavy, people walk quickly through hallways, but he manages to make people talking not boring, which is a gift.

So: Danny Kaffee (Cruise) is a lawyer who's joined the Navy for a three-year stint in JAG before he gets a real job. Jo Galliway (Moore) is an Internal Affairs lawyer who catches a case of two Marines in Gitmo who accidentally killed a squad-mate during a "Code Red," that is, a disciplinary measure within the Corps (common, but against the rules). Cruise wants to plea it out, the prosecutor (Bacon) is amenable, but the men won't go for it - they won't admit guilt. Cruise is ready to give up, but then he realizes that he was handed this case precisely because he always pleas out.

So it turns out that the base commander (Nicholson) and his senior officers (Sutherland and Walsh) were really responsible, insofar as they gave the orders for the Code Red (well, Walsh didn't, he wanted the dude transferred). The defense basically cooks down to "they were just following orders," but Cruise digs a little deeper into the psychology of the Marines in Cuba and why they do not question orders, ever, even if the orders are obviously morally wrong on their face. And he wins, insofar as Nicholson is arrested for perjury and the accused Marines are acquitted of murder (though, appropriately, they are dishonorably discharged).

It's good, it's iconic, and if you've ever heard someone thunder "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH," this movie is why. Cruise turns in one of his standard "cocky, young whatever" performances, but he's young enough that it still works. Nicholson gets to be an asshole, which he seems to enjoy, and you can see the progression in Sutherland's voice work that eventually landed him the gig in Monsters vs. Aliens.

My grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium. Say what you want about Sorkin, he's very watchable.

Next up: The Fifth Element


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