Platoon (1986) Poster

(1986)

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10/10
"When I die, bury me upside-down, so the world can kiss my ass"
gigan-924 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A+ Undoubtedly one of the best war films ever made, if not one of the THE best films of all time. Where to begin with such a film? A lot of this goes to Oliver Stone, who actually served in the God-forsaken jungles of Vietnam. The film really brings to light the atrocities and pointlessness of the Vietnam War full force, all cleverly represented by the soldiers who fought these not so courageous and valor-filled battles.

The conflict is simple at a glance; Chris Taylor, played superbly by Charlie Sheen, is a young recruit who in a similar trait to the Civil War novel "The Red Bade of Courage" is naively eager to be a proud and loyal soldier fighting against Communism, as he believes, nobly. However, he soon finds that "the 'Nam" is nothing like he thought it would be. The Vietnam is portrayed as realistically as it will ever be here: as a chaotic, dark, and all to real nightmare. It is within this hell he realizes that there are only two ways to truly endure the war: Give into near animal instincts, discarding all morals and perspectives of decency or find ways to escape the war at least for short bursts. Taylor decides to choose the latter, but regardless the platoon is divided by these two choices, on one side being Barnes, who will let the war consume them completely. The other is Elias, who represents Taylor's last grasp to his humanity. Many choose one path and never turn away from it, despite the fact that many of these men will die regardless. The underlying conflict is how you spend those last remaining days, minutes, instances of life. And all along the Vietcong are just an outside force who the soldiers have no real chance of understanding or negotiating with , just one of the many hazards they will have to survive.

Tom Berenger is endlessly great as Barnes, and Willem Dafoe is no less stunning. Every performance is stunning and captures the very real fear of war. Among the many other stand out performances in this picture are Kevin Dillon as the sadistic Bunny, John C. McGinley as Sgt. O'Neill, Francesco Quinn as Rhah, Johnny Depp as Lerner, Forest Whitaker as Big Harold and Keith David as the unforgettable King. And the coup de grace, an unforgettable and heartbreaking score by the late Georges Delerue and Samuel Barber, such beautiful and yet clearly pained music. "Platoon" will never cease to be my favorite war flick ever.
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10/10
Hell is the impossibility of reason
Julkka10 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Why I think Platoon is probably the best war movie Hollywood ever made? Because it's very humane. I mean it. The director sees all his characters as victims of war rather than heroes or villains. Have a closer look at 'em.

Taylor has no power inside himself and is torn between the two fathers; he ends up with a physical act of revenge. This is not what one father taught him - and the other father is actually murdered by him.

Sgt. Barnes would never fit the postwar life and knew it damn too well himself; after all, he is not a fool although might seem a senseless killing machine at first sight. Vietnamese bullets could not kill him, his talent for survival being his enemy. So, he attempts kinda suicide twice (at least) begging others to kill him and thus end the pain tearing him from inside: first, in the potheads' bunker scene after Taylor's accusations; then, when Taylor finds him in the final scene.

Sgt. Elias was far too good to survive the Nam and maybe even challenged and annoyed lifers on purpose, waiting for some bob barnes to hit back :) It's a pity Stone excluded the stars' scene monologue which explains pretty much about Elias' ways and view of the future. In fact, for himself he sees no future. Not in this world that is all about betrayal and killing.

Bunny and Junior, one the embodiment of somewhat sadistic bravery and the other of cowardice. Their deaths are partly a morality, partly to show that it does not matter if you're black or white, brave or cowardly, war makes no difference wiping off everyone it can.

King, Big Harold, Francis are survivors yet victims, too. What is awaiting them in the "real" world where nobody understands and nobody respects anything? They are dreaming of a comeback to music, girlfriends, fun time - but reality bites, and who knows, will they find their spot under the sun or will be forced to use the skills obtained in the Nam and get engaged in crime and drug abuse?

Red O'Neill talking about his ability to predict if a guy is gonna make it or not. A reflection of his own fears: shall I stay alive and get out of here or not. The odds are that he is not, and Stone nails him to the place with Captain's order to take over what was once the Platoon... Bye Patsy.

The idea that Stone has been trying to bring forward to us is NOT (to my mind) a story of struggle between the good and the bad for the possession of Taylor's soul (remember, the boy became a murderer in the end), but: where is war there can be no escape. Leave hope everyone who enters.

Highest rate ever for that.
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9/10
within Vietnam and beyond
red_core8 May 2004
Platoon is generally regarded as one of the strongest anti-war films of all time. While this is certainly true, what's often overlooked -- at least after only one run through the film -- is that it's chiefly a tale of God vs. Satan, and the war is there to set a perilous backdrop. No doubt, Platoon shows the Vietnam War was a big mistake, but being a fictional documentary on Vietnam is far from its purpose.

The story is told from the point of view of Chris Taylor (solidly played by Charlie Sheen), a middle class kid who goes to Vietnam to do what he thinks is his patriotic duty. In the first ten minutes, Chris is shown in the uncomfortable jungle, struggling just to survive in the natural environment, let alone do any actual damage to the enemy. Quickly we're introduced to the well-known facets of the Vietnam War: The lack of sense of purpose, the wraith-like enemies, the obvious prevalence of the uneducated and poor among the fighting grunts -- and, soon, we see how these factors combine to cause widespread low morale and some actions of more than questionable ethical value.

Chris sees his platoon fragmented into two halves, each aligned with one of two men -- Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) and Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger). These two really are the driving force behind the film. They both have nominally the same enemy (the Viet Cong), but, really, it doesn't take long to realize that Elias is Good, and Barnes is Evil (the "enemy" does not enter into the moral equation of this film, at all -- it's an outside threat, same as malaria-carrying mosquitoes or even friendly fire). I won't deny it is a very black-vesus-white relationship, but this polarity does not feel contrived. Elias feels the futility of the war and has respect for life; Barnes fights the war doggedly and has no compassion, period. Both are efficient soldiers fighting the same enemy, but really -- as is at one point aptly put by Chris Taylor himself -- they are fighting for the souls of the platoon members, as the outcome of the war is never really in doubt.

Elias/Barnes' hold on the platoon, and the viewer, is developed through several war sequences. A chilling scene takes place in a village, where our soldiers find no VC, but they do find a cache of VC weapons. The inhumanity of certain soldiers, including of Sgt. Barnes, is unflinchingly shown here. It leaves the viewer with an empty feeling that is hard to shake, reminding of the similarly empty look on a woman's face after she sees her son killed in front her.

Elias doesn't take kindly to this kind of behavior. Elias and Barnes come closer and closer to open conflict, as Taylor becomes a veteran, obviously siding with Elias. Meanwhile, the fate of the platoon comes closer and closer to them, culminating in an explosively shot action conclusion. The end is dark, but morally satisfying.

Don't watch this movie for the action. That's not to say it's not well shot, or unrealistic. On the contrary. It's quite convincing. But it doesn't show war as a fun sport, and it's never a question of good guys versus bad guys. There will be no cheering for the "good guys" or anyone else in this one. Stone succeeds brilliantly at putting the viewer into the middle of it all, and it's not a pretty sigh (and definitely not for the squeamish, either).

On the other hand, if you want great acting, it's here. Dafoe and Berenger do incredibly well, with the incredibly good (and seemingly authentically sounding) script. Barnes is horrific as he challenges three men to kill him, drinking hard liquor out of the bottle. They don't make a move, and neither will you, though you'll hate him just as much as them. Dafoe is a ray of light in the dark as Elias. The cast is rounded out with many characters, all well played, and adding another dimension to the film.

The technical aspects of the film are superb, though one never thinks about them much, as the movie is completely engrossing. The production values seem quite good, as well. The most stunning peripheral aspect of this film, however, is the music. It's emotional and draining, and used to great effect -- listen for the main theme as you watch the village burn.

Watch this one a few times, and you'll likely be quite moved each time. I'll be surprised if you give it less than what I gave it: 9/10
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Perfection... or as close to it as we're ever likely to see
Mark Davies28 April 2004
Its hard to know where to start with such a breathtaking film. Oliver Stone's Platoon is quite simply the best Vietnam war film ever made in my opinion. Everything about it is as close to perfection as we are likely to see. Charlie Sheen plays the lead, and Willem Defoe and Tom Berenger play the two sergeants that form a key part of the plot.

Chris Taylor (Sheen) is torn between the sergeants. Barnes (Berenger) is the battle hardened, brutal murderer, who uses the war as an excuse to tender to his sadistic pleasures. Elias (Defoe) is the other side of the spectrum. We get the sense that he has wrestled with his inner demons, but he has successfully come through to the other side. He has compassion for his fellow man, and he uses drugs as a form of escapism from this brutal war. The two symbolise the struggle that Taylor must face if he is to survive out in Vietnam.

Oliver Stone perfectly captures war. The shooting is frantic and impossible to follow. It perfectly disorientates us, just as the soldiers were. We have no idea who is being shot at, and neither do they. We follow the war at ground level, and see the brutalities first hand. Having served in Vietnam, the film is loosely based on Stone's time out there, and Taylor loosely based on himself.

Full Metal Jacket showcases how inhumane the war was, Apocalypse Now turns it into a story about life in general, and hopelessness, but Platoon has everything. Trying hard to avoid the old cliché, but if you only watch one war film, make sure it is this one. Nothing else can come close.
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10/10
Hurtful
HALUK KILIC15 September 2010
I watched Platoon when I was 17 at 1987. I was on the edge of questioning everything and ready to uprise with a small move. Of course I was fascinated after watching the movie and I remember I was that close to cry. I can definitely say Platoon is one of the best war movies of the history. It has many incredible scenes and it reserves a great story of brotherhood inside also vandalism and senseless of war. Charlie Sheen , William Dafoe and the great Tom Berenger can easily be considered as one the best combination of actors to tell a story of faith and betrayal in a movie. Oliver Stone did a great job as writer and director. I remember that I was really touched with the letters that Taylor ( Charlie Sheen ) writes to his grandma. Also with the amazing music of the film you feel many different things. I believe that on the last scene the picture of William Dafoe with his hands open on his knees with hundreds Viet Congs coming after him is a masterpiece work and unforgettable.I watched this movie at Osmanbey Gazi movie theater at Osmanbey-Istanbul and ı believe 70's and 80's are the best time in Istanbul for watching a movie with big saloons and with great atmosphere. With 90's big movie theaters started to turn to couple of small saloons and with shopping malls movie theaters started to locate at malls. I really miss a lot of 80's and the taste I get from the legend movie theaters like Osmanbey Site-Sisli Kent-Osmanbey Gazi- Pangaltı Inci-Harbiye Konak and Harbiye As.
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Uncomfortable but very worthy view of war's impact on the young
bob the moo3 July 2002
At the height of the Vietnam War, America's teens are drafted into the war effort to find themselves in the middle of hell. One such young man is Chris Taylor. He is placed in a squadron where two sergeants have different approaches to the war – Elias is more about surviving without being brutal or cruel, whereas Barnes is crueller, more ruthless and more violent. During the course of his term, Taylor's very soul is torn between the two men as he deals with what he must do.

The first film in Oliver Stone's unofficial trilogy is arguably the best of the three. The basic story not only shows us what the war was like for those serving but also how the different personalities come out of those involved in it. As we follow Taylor we see him change as he is influenced by those around him and by his situation. It makes for an uncomfortable film but one that's worth watching. It's certainly a better war movie than things like Wild Geese or The Dirty Dozen, simply because it's a little more real to what happens than those ones.

Charlie Sheen has never been better than when he's acting for Stone. Here he gives one of his best ever performances as the innocent who is changed. Willem Dafoe is a great actor and here is no different – he also gives us one of the film's most enduring images so I'm a little biased. Berenger is another one for whom it's hard to think of a higher point reached than when he did this film. He is brutal and ruthless but he makes us support him in a strange way. The support cast are all good and contains a few famous faces (John C McGinley, Whitaker, Depp) however this is really a three man show.

Overall this is brutal and violent with no happy ending. At the end of the day isn't that what a war film should be?
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10/10
One of Oliver Stone's best films
Vogue18921 July 2001
Platoon left me absolutely numb after watching it. Oliver Stone,(Who in fact did serve in Vietnam) did a fantastic job telling this story of the horrors and the insanity of the Vietnam war. What's to be admired about this film, is that Stone doesn't sweet-talk the story, with the good old American boys fighting for their country and facing brutality, instead he brings up a strong morality and humanity issue. It's wasn't all black and white, it wasn't one person was wrong, one was right, there was all shades of gray in between. He uses the characters of Sergeant Barnes and Sergeant Elias (both played brilliantly) as symbols of good and evil clashing into one another. Charlie Sheen (Chris, the narrator of the story) is in a sense torn between both, they are both a part of him as he tries to deal with things falling apart all around him. Vietnam was a senseless war, and Platoon tries to understand why we went through it and how we ever got through it.
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9/10
One Of The Best Movies Of The 1980s
Theo Robertson3 September 2003
The 1980s in general and the mid 1980s in particular aren't highly regarded where pop culture is concerned , this is most especially true in cinema where films seemed to be written around their soundtrack in much the same way as Hollywood movies nowadays seem to be written around their special effects . PLATOON is one of the very few films from that period that has an emotional impact , an impact that it still retains while watching it in 2003.

Everyone else seems to have mentioned what makes PLATOON a classic anti-war ( Note it's anti-war , not anti American or anti soldier ) movie along with being a classic movie , so I won't go over old ground except to say THAT death scene is up there with all the other tear jerking scenes from 20th century cinema , don't be ashamed to say you cried

If PLATOON has a flaw it's in its duality , there's the good Sarge/bad Sarge , good officer/bad officer , good white guy/bad white guy , good black guy/bad black boy etc which is maybe a bit clichéd and possibly leads me to believe Stone is making an excuse/reason that the Americans lost in Vietnam because that spent so much fighting each other rather than the VC ( Though I do concede I'm possibly misinterpreting that as an excuse or even a reason since no one will confuse the politics of Stone with the politics of John Wayne ) while Taylor's character comes across as being more of a literary device rather than a real human being , but these are minor flaws

It's a shame to see war films from the last few years devoid of scathing anti-war sentiments like the ones seen here . PLATOON screams at you " War is hell and whatever the rights and wrongs of conflict you need a bloody good reason to wage war . Vietnam wasn't a good enough reason to sacrifice human lives "
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10/10
Best Vietnam War movie you can see
brown30122 January 2005
Platoon is a must see for any fan of war movies. The film that put Stone on the map, Platoon is considered by Vietnam Vets as the most realistic (my father having been one of them). But in keeping the maxim of giving credit where credit is due, much of the success of Platoon belongs to military adviser Captain Dale Dye, who has been linked to pretty much every great war movie in the last twenty years. Much accolades to Tom Berenger as well, whose performance as Sgt. Barnes is the tour de force of his career (the scene in the village towards the end of the movie is brutal, befitting the character). With a great script, great performances, and awesome cinematography, Platoon is a surefire classic.
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10/10
Still my favorite film
bzb200113 March 2003
Every once in a while I will watch this film again and see if maybe I have grown tired of it. Surely after "Saving Private Ryan," "Titanic," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," or "Schindler's List" I have seen a better film. Well, after every viewing there is something about Oliver Stone's masterpiece that keeps me saying that I have never seen anything better.

I am a sucker for Vietnam pictures. "Apocalypse Now" and "The Deer Hunter" also rank in my top ten of all time. Stories about Vietnam can run the entire gambit of human emotions. "Platoon" is not only a documentation of America's sordid involvement in a foreign civil war, it is also a dramatic story of human response. A life developing in the most horrible of places.

There have been films put together better. There have been films with more detailed and interesting plots. But none have ever told a more touching story of human development set in the backdrop of bloody violence and inhuman suffering.

Rating: 10 out of 10.
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