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In one of the most telling scenes in this movie, Navy Lieutenant Commander
Jo Galloway (Demi Moore), a lawyer who is helping to defend two Marines on
trial for murder, is asked why she likes these guys so much. And she
replies, `Because they stand on a wall, and they say nothing is going to
hurt you tonight, not on my watch'.' Which veritably sums up the sense of
duty and honor which underscores the conflict of `A Few Good Men,' directed
by Rob Reiner, and starring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. There is a code
by which a good Marine must live and die, and it is: Unit, Corps, God,
Country. But to be valid, that code must also include truth and justice;
and if they are not present, can the code stand? Which is the question
asked by director Reiner, who examines the parameters of that code with this
film, which centers on the murder of a young Private First Class named
William Santiago, who was killed while stationed at the Marine Corps base at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The case draws the attention of Commander Galloway,
Special Counsel for Internal Affairs in the Judge Advocate General's Corps
in Washington, D.C. Galloway, taking into consideration the impeccable
service records of the two Marines charged with the crime, convinces her
superiors that a thorough investigation is warranted in this case, though
there are those in high places who would rather see this one plea bargained
and put to rest.
Galloway persists, however, believing that Santiago's death may have resulted from a `Code Red,' a method of disciplinary hazing employed in certain circles of the Corps, though illegal. And if this was a Code Red, the real question is, who gave the order? Ultimately, her tenacity prevails, but though Galloway is a seasoned lawyer, she has little actual courtroom experience, so Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Cruise) is assigned to the case, along with Lieutenant Sam Weinberg (Kevin Pollak), with Galloway, as ranking officer, to assist. Kaffee, the son of a legendary lawyer, has skated through the first nine months of his Naval career, successfully plea bargaining forty-four cases. Outwardly upbeat and personable, Kaffee seems more concerned with his softball game than he does with the time he has to spend on the job. But underneath, he's coping with living his life in the shadow of his late father's reputation, which is an issue with which he must come to terms if he is to successfully effect the outcome of this case. And on this one he will have a formidable opponent: Colonel Nathan R. Jessup (Nicholson), who commands the base at Guantanamo.
As Jessup, Nicholson gives a commanding performance, and once he enters the film you can sense the tension he brings to it, which begins to swell immediately, and which Reiner does a great job of maintaining right up to the end. Jessup is a soldier of the old guard, a man of narrow vision and a particular sense of duty; to Jessup there's two ways of doing things: His way and the wrong way. He's a man who-- as he says-- eats breakfast three hundred yards away from the enemy, and he's not about to let a couple of lawyers in dress whites intimidate him. And that's exactly the attitude Nicholson brings to this role. When he speaks, you not only hear him loud and clear, you believe him. It's a powerful performance and, as you would expect from Nicholson, entirely convincing and believable.
Cruise, also, gives what is arguably one of the best performances of his career as Kaffee. He perfectly captures the aloofness with which Kaffee initially regards the case, as well as the determination with which he pursues it later. Cruise is convincing in the role, and some of the best scenes in the film are the ones he plays opposite Nicholson in the courtroom, the most memorable being one in which Kaffee exclaims to Jessup, `I want the truth!' to which Jessup replies, `You can't handle the truth!' And the atmosphere fairly crackles.
Moore is outstanding, as well, and she manages to hold her own and make her presence felt even in the scenes dominated by Nicholson and Cruise. It's a fine piece of acting by Moore, who deserves more than just a passing mention for it. Also turning in notable performances are Pollak, whose dry humor adds such an extra touch to the film, and Wolfgang Bodison, who makes an impressive screen debut as Lance Corporal Dawson, on of the Marines on trial for the murder of Santiago.
The supporting cast includes Kiefer Sutherland (Kendrick), Kevin Bacon (Ross), James Marshall (Downey), J.T. Walsh (Markinson), Cuba Gooding Jr. (Hammaker) and Christopher Guest (Dr. Stone). A powerful drama, superbly delivered by Reiner, `A Few Good Men' is a thought provoking, unforgettable motion picture that makes you take pause for a moment to consider some things that are for the most part out of sight and out of mind. Like who is on that wall tonight, and are we safe because of him. And it makes you reflect upon some things perhaps too often taken for granted. And that's what really makes this film so good; and it's all a part of the magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.
This is my all-time favorite movie. I've probably watched it 300 times
and I can recite it line by line. I once wrote the script during the
course of one semester in a class I hated. I still have the notebook.
Demi Moore definitely is the film's weakest link, but the acting is superb and Aaron Sorkin's story sucks you in from the opening minute. There is so much great dialogue, headlined by Tom Cruise's courtroom battle with Jack Nicholson at the movie's climax.
Too many people say the movie is average because it's "too slow," but I really believe anyone who appreciates good acting and good stories has to put this one near the top of their list.
Guantanamo Bay is, apart possibly from the 38th Parallel in Korea, the
only place left on earth where the US Military still confronts hostile
Stalinism, eyeball to eyeball. Ceded to the USA after the Spanish-American
War of 1898, Guantanamo is America's only outpost on the island of Cuba.
Marines guarding the perimeter of the naval base are under immense pressure.
Here in the Cold War's last remaining hotspot, they are responsible for
protecting the Free World.
A border incident has occurred. A marine sentry has fired a 'live' round in the direction of the communists. One of his colleagues has informed on him, bringing on himself a 'code red'. The 'code red' is an unofficial disciplinary measure, imposed by a marine squad when a member offends against the unit's esprit de corps. Having been gagged, bound and beaten, the marine dies at his colleagues' hands. There will now be a court-martial.
Demi Moore plays Lieutenant-Commander Joanne Galloway, a lawyer in the Navy's Internal Affairs Department. A deft plot device has her rehearsing to herself a request to be assigned to the case as she walks across the parade ground, efficiently conveying necessary information to the viewer.
Dan Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is a smart, flippant, good-looking young Navy lawyer. His father was a renowned jurist, and Dan feels the burden of his father's reputation. Indeed, his casual, tongue-in-cheek attitude to the law is his way of avoiding comparison with his father. You can't fail if you don't even try.
Kaffee is assigned to defend the two marine privates accused of killing the informer. Why a junior officer should be given conduct of such a serious case is baffling, unless of course the Marine Corps wants these men to be found guilty, in order to protect somebody more important...
Colonel Nathan Jessep is fascinating. Jack Nicholson always turns in a magnetic performance, but this one is special. He makes his character by turns urbane, self-assured, sarcastic, professional and menacing.
Gradually, Demi and Tom start to pull together and to function as a defence team. The 'code red' doctrine is exposed as a pernicious practice.
If the film is a stock courtroom drama pretty much like all the others, it certainly has qualities which set it apart. Three outstanding performances from the stars, Nicholson, Cruise and Moore, make it a bit special. The denouement is very hard to believe, but there are things in the film which linger in the memory and compensate for the exaggerations of the plot.
The opening credits roll over lovingly-filmed images of a precision-drill rifle squad in action. The viewer is, from the very start, placed emotionally in the context of a severe, inflexible discipline which is both admirable and unnerving. Kaffee indulges in some sparkling legal jockeying. Though he may lack trial experience, we feel that he will defend these men ably. He is nobody's fool. The flirtatious bickering between Kaffee and Galloway is well done. Jessep's walk to the witness stand is a moment of high drama, with Nicholson filmed from a low angle, emphasising the formidable authority of the man.
This clever, highly-polished film finally convinced me that Cruise can act. As for Demi, I am still unable to figure her out. What is it about her that remains stubbornly unsympathetic? She has abundant intelligence and talent, and is exquisitely beautiful, and yet is is impossible to warm to her. Does she get these parts because of her dark personality, or do the roles colour our perception of her?
A good film is what A Few Good Men is. It is not perfect but especially the
performances take this film to a higher level. Tom Cruise and Demi Moore as
the 'good guys' are good, as is Kevin Bacon. But the 'bad guys' make this
movie really good. Kiefer Sutherland and most of all Jack Nicholson are
The story is interesting and well told. We all know the truth from the beginning, or we think we do, but the movie is still exciting in its own way.
I liked this movie very much, it was never boring, and I was real pleased that some of the cliches you normally see in a movie like this one were left out. If you like a good story, good directing and perfect performances this is your movie. 9/10.
A young hotshot naval lawyer (Cruise) is given what seems to be an open
and shut case of two marines murdering another while he slept. Cruise,
who has a reputation for plea bargaining was assigned by division, to
defend the accused. Could it be so it never sees the inside of a
Over seeing the defence of the accused is Demi Moore, from internal affairs, who is renowned for her attention to detail. She believes their innocence and suspects a cover up.
In charge of the marine unit in question is Jack Nicholson, a hard-ass marine who commands respect and demands the best.
With outstanding performances from Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, and Yes Demi Moore as well. The plot develops, and the conspiracy surrounding the case becomes apparent. And its up to Cruise to lay his career on the line to find the truth.
This movie is a powerful drama, and is fantastically well made.
I love it 10/10
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore This movie is for
people who like lawyerly stuff and military type stuff. This movie is
an episode of Jag on crack. This movie was made by Rob Reiner. Really,
after that last statement, need I say more? If you didn't know that Rob
Reiner did The Princess Bride, then hang your head in shame now.
It starts out in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when a couple marines enter the room of another marine, stuff a rag down his throat, duct tape his mouth shut, duct tape his hands behind his back, duct tape his legs together, and so on. Then the credits roll and we cut to D.C., where we find out that the marine getting gagged and tied died that night. The two marines that were doing the gagging and tying are charged with murder and flown out to D.C.
The task of lead counsel is assigned to Daniel Kaffee (Cruise), a lieutenant junior grade with a track record for plea bargaining and smooth talking. Lt. Cmdr. Jo Galloway (Moore) is assigned to be co-counsel, despite the fact that she tried to get in as lead counsel. They start the investigation down in Cuba where they meet Col. Nathan Jessup (Nicholson), the man who ordered the two men to give Private Santiago the Code Red, which accidentally led to his death. Of course, Jessup doesn't tell this to Danny or Jo. Why would he? He'd look pretty bad for it, right? So when they get back to D.C. and do some legal maneuvering with their clients and the prosecution, Danny manages to get a deal for a mere two years of prison time, where they are actually home in six months. And the two that are charged turn it down on principle, because they still believe they have done nothing wrong. Danny decides that he wants to get a different lawyer assigned to the case because he doesn't want to go down with them, but then has a change of heart after talking to a few people and thinking about it.
So the trial starts, and that's when the movie really picks up speed. The skill that Danny has as he strides around the courtroom asking all the right questions and probing in just the right ways is phenomenal. It almost makes you want to be a lawyer.
There are some major setbacks along the way, some things go right, a lot more go wrong, but eventually everything turns out okay in the end. But like so many movies where we know how it's going to end, it was never really the ending we were banking on, but the fun of getting there.
Bottom Line: 4 out of 4 (own this movie)
This is one of the movies, I have watched many many times. First few
times, Tom Cruise seemed to be giving an ordinary performance; probably
my shortcoming that I was not able to understand his character. But,
then I realized that he was playing exactly the character he was
supposed to portray and he did it in a impeccable manner - wow!!!! He
was just second to Jack Nicholson.
I could not imagine if anyone else could have replaced Jack Nicholson - his stellar performance (as always) and the intensity and ferocity with which he delivered his dialogues - man, even his facial expressions at times were worth a watch.
Story line and plot don't seem to be so strong and there will be many people who would not agree with its end and even with the message of the movie, which is although not so clear but definitely points towards some of the not so best practices being followed in any country's army (over discipline in the name of straightening the people and getting things in order or even avoiding any further chaos or things being run by certain people just to settle their personal scores and run in a way they think is the best, even disregarding other people's reasonable opinions). However, the other things apart, movie was a treat to watch. Director Rob Reiner and writer Aaron Sorkin didn't leave any stone unturned when it came to dialogues in the movie - in fact, the dialogues delivered by each and every character (not only Jack Nicholson) have been simply stunning.
this movie kicks. it's one of my favorites. i like courtroom drama, and in my opinion, this is the best courtroom movie ever. i love the part when tom cruise, during his redirect, asks noah wyle how he knows where the mess hall is if it isn't in the marine guidebooks. is that a great scene or what? and of course the climax, when cruise has JACK on the stand, is exhilarating to watch, even after repeated viewings. nichalson may be slightly over the top as colonel jessup, but that's why he's so good in this movie. kieffer sutherland is perfect as kendrick. and of course i have to mention jt walsh as markinson, just because i think walsh was a great character actor, and he'll always be one of my favorites. my score-10.
I'm not the greatest fan of Tom Cruise, yet A Few Good Men along with
Jerry McGuire would have to rank as one of his best performances. Owing
to a transition from stage to celluloid, the movie has the intimacy of
drama written all over it.
The emphasis on facial expression, the length of dialog and the sheer drama make the watching of the movie a unique experience. The writer doesn't cater for the unenlightened, doesn't drawl over or repeat facts. Afterall, it is the experience of watching A Few Good Men that is a winner over and above all else.
Demi Moore is gorgeous alluring and vulnerable all at once. Worth a watch and perhaps another.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Many powerful dramas have been made throughout the history of motion
pictures. This is one of few to combine intense meaningful drama with a
funny script, full of witty dialog. The ensemble of nothing but renowned
competent actors ensures excellent performances throughout the movie. This
would have been an almost perfect film if it wasn't for one little
consistency issue regarding Colonel Jessep. Until the very end of the
the script portrays the events from Jessep's point of view with gruesome
accuracy, but after his confession he becomes a man with no apparent sense
of causal relations. The fact that the man who formerly went to such
extremes as to make entire flights disappear to protect his secret,
understand the consequences of him confessing that secret, in the court of
law, makes me confused. Of course you could argue that the colonel lives
the rules and notions of the Marine Corps and doesn't fully comprehend the
world outside. I still don't accept it completely though, but that doesn't
matter much overall. This is an excellent film. Watch it, watch it again
then re-watch it. You won't be disappointed.
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