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70 out of 93 people found the following review useful:

Mixed feelings

9/10
Author: Ben Pasley from Purdue University
17 November 2004

Having graduated from a military academy and later joining army ROTC myself it was almost like I was living back at my high school again. Especially due to the fact that I was a company commander my senior year and had my best friends as platoon leaders and XO. I got a much different take on the movie than most of you. It is one that was much more prevalent in the military academy I to than ROTC. Rather than a view of "misguided youths" (I would argue the point that they were misguided) I saw the movie as fight between the old and the new. The old conservative ways versus the post Vietnam War era generation. Whether to preserve conservative tradition or to continue with social liberalism. In the movie the fight was about tearing down the academy to build condominiums. In real life where I was, it was about turning our military academy into a normal prep school. In my case the fight didn't get violent, however like the cadets in the movie I picked the losing side.

In the movie I was heart broken that the governor would send troops to the school rather than try and work out a peaceful compromise when he saw the measure that people were willing to go to in order to protect their school. In real life I was very disheartened to see the old cadre of retired military officers get sacked and replaced by "soft" civilian administrators. It all hit a climax when one of my life's role models, a retired USAF Major and our companies tactical officer, spoke out against some of the changes being made and got himself sacked. For me that was George C Scott, Penn and Cruise were my friends and platoon leaders in my company and the crisis between the old ways and the new ways were very much the same. The movie reached out to me possibly more than any other. It was seeing my teenage self all over again.

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42 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Honor Without Purpose

Author: Scott A. Frisina (liny4ever@att.net) from Tacoma, Washington
26 September 1999

Bunker Hill Military School-An institution males ("Taps" was made in 1981, adapted from an original novel written prior) ages 12 through 18 attend to teach them academics, character and leadership in anticipation of the graduates attending West Point.

Retired U.S. Army General Harlan Bache (George C. Scott) is the commandant of the school. His curiculum teaches his young charges teamwork, personal honor, courage and sacrifice. But something is lost in the translation.

General Bache answers to the schools board of trustees. They have decided to close the 141 year old institution for the purpose of realizing the full potential of the real estate. The news is devastating to Bache and his student body.

Operating on the lessons he has been taught by his mentor, General Bache, Cadet Major Brian Moreland (Timothy Hutton), Student Body Corps Commander, decides there is courage and honor in defending the institution with their very lives if necessary. Together with Calvary Corps Commander Alex Dwyer (Sean Penn) and elite company commander David Shawn (Tom Cruise), they set about doing just that.

"Taps", directed with style and class by Harold Becker, is a study of misdirected honor and courage. The students involved are not much younger than those who would be sent to distant battlefields by the active duty military. They are impressionable and taken by uniforms and strict discipline. They are intelligent but inexperienced. They are the future leaders being molded by General Bache.

General Bache is a good, fatherly man who has forgotten one thing-personal honor and courage mean nothing unless these values are supported by the one ideal worth lives-freedom. This ideal is the reason our military exists and this is the one, most important lesson General Bache fails to teach his young future leaders of the United States military. His students overreact to a situation that does not warrant sacrificing lives for.

Timothy Hutton is outstanding as the misguided Cadet Commander. Even his father, a top sergeant in the U.S. Army, can't talk him out of the path he has chosen for himself and his fellow students. There is also a subtle hint that his relationship with his father was never the best. Sean Penn turns in a great performance as the Corps Cavalry Commander and Moreland's right hand man who doesn't believe things could spin out of control so badly and comes to realize there is something wrong with the path Moreland has chosen. And Tom Cruise is powerful as the ultra-disciplined elite company commander who seems to relish a fight more than anything he's been taught about honor and courage.

The principles receive wonderful support from Ronny Cox as the commanding colonel of an Army National Guard unit who desperately attempts to talk reason to Moreland.

"Taps" is not perfect. I couldn't understand why General Bache would take a loaded ceremonial pistol to a school military ball. But then again, I have witnessed one or two acts in my own real life active duty service which took less common sense than that.

Overall, "Taps" is a well directed story with strong characters and depth. The film warns us of the dangers of honor without purpose.



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29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Once upon a time during the Cold War

Author: dcs84 from Pennan, Scotland
4 August 2001

I first saw Taps when I was only 11 and I loved it. But at eleven I liked it for its militaristic attributes rather than its 'fight for honour' motif.

I recently, aged 31, saw it again, and, predictably, liked it for entirely different reasons. Firstly, as someone else on this sight mentioned, the film is quite beautiful to look at. The cinematography is quite stunning actually, and if you don't believe me, watch it again. Secondly the direction, writing, and editing is tight, controlled and technically fairly solid.

But what made this film for me was the impressive, inspired acting by the, at the time, young cast. I was captivated by the core trio of Cruise, Penn, and Hutton. If charisma were a concrete substance these three would have garbage bags of the stuff stowed in their cupboards.

The script was thoughtful, and, importantly, believable. The ending was very powerful......when I was eleven, but once seen, lost it's effect on subsequent viewings.

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24 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

War games

7/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
13 February 2006

"Taps" presents a twist in the way students in a military academy of certain reputation perceive how honor is, above all, the thing to live for, even over all other qualities a man could possess. The teachings of this military institution, molding young men 12 to 18 years old, have a profound effect, especially in the intense Brian Moreland, who is a clear favorite of the academy director, General Bache.

Harold Becker directed "Taps", which is based on a novel by Devery Freeman. The action of the film takes place in the fictional Bunker Hill Military Academy, that has just been sold to private investors who want transform the site into condominiums.

With a history of having molded young minds during its distinguished history, Gen. Bache is horrified by the mere thought of losing the academy and the young people he has helped to involve in the rich life of the military. After a tragic incident that involves the killing of a townie, Bache suffers a heart attack, leaving the academy in the hands of people that are seen trying to undermine the fallen leader.

Brian Moreland, the serious minded young man, takes it into his own hands to take care of what he thinks would be Gen. Bache's reaction in saving the school by getting the rest of the students left at the academy to hold it hostage and not give in to the upcoming changes, or to other people who don't have the same purpose in mind.

Timothy Hutton is about the best thing going for the film. This young actor brought the right amount of seriousness, courage and valor to the role. This film is basically the big screen debut for Sean Penn and Tom Cruise, who went to build spectacular careers of their own. George C. Scott, another excellent actor is seen as Gen. Bache, but unfortunately, he doesn't have much to do and only appears in the opening sequences. Other familiar faces in the cast, Billy Van Zandt, Giancarlo Esposito.

"Taps" is a film that shows how some young minds will act when they follow to the letter things they have learned in theory in the classroom. It also recognizes how honor could get a well meaning person to do things that he will regret later on and how it can cause harm to innocent young men that go along with these new leaders.

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29 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Changing perspectives

8/10
Author: intcountzero from Toronto
1 September 2004

The biggest kick I got was seeing Hutton, Cruise, and Penn as teenagers turning out amazing performances at such a younger age. I guess some actors are just destined to rise to the top.

George C. Scott also turned in a great, believable performance as an old wartime General. However I find it interesting, after seeing this movie over 20 years later, how it's context has changed for me personally. While in '81, the story was perhaps designed to generate sympathy for the General and his plight, I look at his situation today and feel nothing but pity for him, as I would for any Shakespearean tragic hero, who because of their narrow-sightedness, could not see the bigger picture. And in this case, their consequences caused a chain of events that took on an uncontrollable life of their own. Funny how the years can sometimes dictate understanding and perspective.

The previous review mentioned for this flick is 100% bang on.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Improbable but entertaining...early Hutton, Penn and Cruise...

6/10
Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
11 November 2006

Hold the fort seems to be the slogan of these military cadets when they decide to rally behind TIMOTHY HUTTON who wants an armed defense of the school from authorities who want to shut it down after an accidental shooting by the presiding General Bache (GEORGE C. SCOTT). Aiding and abetting are TOM CRUISE and, in his film debut, SEAN PENN.

The tale seems highly improbable but is played so earnestly, is scripted so well, and directed so competently that it manages to hold the attention until the more or less predictable outcome.

The cadets are all extremely well played, from the very young boys to those who appear to be in their early twenties. When the authorities are unable to take back the school, the parents appeal to the children through loud speakers. "Sometimes being accepted by your friends, isn't worth the price," says one mother.

Unfortunately, the stalemate phase of the movie lasts much too long to sustain interest. But it's interesting now to watch the very young Hutton, Penn and Cruise show why they became superstars. I agree with Maltin who says it "plays its cards too soon, leaving a lot of dead weight before the outcome."

Summing up: Improbable story, but entertaining in a curious way.

Memorable line from Hutton's father resonates today: "They think you're home grown terrorists."

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Filmed in 1981; still applies today

Author: Sundown305 (tdt005@beta.latech.edu) from Ruston, Louisiana, USA
17 January 2000

"Taps" is a story of twisted priorities and conflicting ideals of what honor, valor, and a fighting man really means. This was (and still is) an unmatched screenplay that is ever so true today. It should be mandatory viewing for anyone planning a military career so that they can really evaluate their reasoning for joining the armed services. It should be especially mandatory for any ROTC cadet in college (I'm in such a program, so I speak from experience).

Everyone involved played excellent roles and made the viewer make it as if they were really caught up in such a situation in real life. It didn't seem to be an "acted" movie; it was just that good. I think that Ronny Cox also put some feeling into his role, but if it had to be made in the '90s, I'd pick Dale Dye (who played brief but great roles as a captain in both Platoon and Casualties of War).

Again, this movie should get more credit than it has because the movie's themes and issues still haunt us, even in this "new world order" we're supposedly in. Great work to all involved!

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

The Second Siege of Bunker Hill

7/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
19 June 2007

Taps is about the cadets of Bunker Hill Military Academy and their commanding officer, George C. Scott, and their reaction to the news of the closing of the Academy.

Scott announces at the graduation that the next year will be the final year of Bunker Hill. The Board of Trustees is selling off the place for its prime real estate value to be used for condominium development. Certainly an occurrence we've seen all over the country in many places and not something really desirable in many.

Cadet Major Timothy Hutton knows he will head the last graduating class at Bunker Hill. He and fellow cadets like Sean Penn and Tom Cruise aren't taking it lying down. They may be military cadets, but they've seen and grown up with student protests. Only these students have weapons and are trained in their use.

Can you really blame the cadets like Hutton who've actually in fact forgotten that soldiers carry out and don't make policy? I think it was significant that during the course of Taps it's mentioned that George C. Scott served with General Douglas MacArthur who gave him a sword for his service. It's also mentioned that Scott was passed over for promotion an advancement beyond being a brigadier general and was retired comfortably out to pasture at the Academy.

Scott's not the same kind of military man you see in Patton. Rather he's a lot like the Patton you see in that television film, Patton, the Last Days. A man so totally out of his element that when the accident and broken neck occurred he'd lost his will to live.

Anyway after a scuffle with some of the town louts who are less than enamored of Bunker Hill's military tradition. A town kid is accidentally killed when he tries to get Scott's military issue pistol and it discharges. In a court of law, the man would have been acquitted, but Scott answers to a higher law he lives by.

That scuffle threatens to close the school even for the last year and the kids seize it. It's a confrontation then between idealistic and wrongheaded youth and the real forces of law enforcement.

Ronny Cox contributes a very nice performance as the commanding general of the National Guard trying to keep a lid on the situation. His scenes with the idealistic and obstinate Hutton are the highlight of the film for me.

Tom Cruise and Sean Penn got their first real notice in this film right at the start of their respective mega-careers. Hutton has a nice followup to his Oscar winning performance from Ordinary People. And George C. Scott is, George C. Scott.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A Time-Capsule Gem

Author: eht5y from United States
9 August 2004

'Taps' is an uneven film, burdened somewhat by its ponderousness and pathological seriousness. But what a time capsule!

Of all of the young actors here, only Timothy Hutton was already a star, having become the youngest actor ever to win an Oscar for his role in Robert Redford's 'Ordinary People.' Ironically, among the suporting actors in 'Taps' are Tom Cruise and Sean Penn, one of whom has become the biggest box office draw of his generation and the other its most respected acting talent. Also featured are Evan Handler, best-known as Harry Goldenblatt (Charlotte's divorce lawyer and second husband) on TV's 'Sex and the City,' and Spike Lee favorite Giancarlo Esposito, whose credits include 'The Usual Suspects' and the much-underappreciated TV series 'Homicide: Life on the Streets.'

Even if you find 'Taps' a little overblown and pretentious, it's worth watching to see these accomplished actors back in their baby-faced teens.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Great movie, but it's an emotional roller coaster

10/10
Author: Volleygirl2214 from Southwest Michigan
23 September 2001

It is such an excellent movie, but it changes so much from beginning to end, you fall in and out of love with characters so easily. You respect them one minute, and are disgusted with them the next. But it's great and definitely worth seeing. I love it, especially Timothy Hutton.

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