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A Few Good Men (1992)

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Military lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee defends Marines accused of murder. They contend they were acting under orders.

Director:

Rob Reiner

Writers:

Aaron Sorkin (play), Aaron Sorkin (screenplay)
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Popularity
977 ( 189)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Cruise ... Lt. Daniel Kaffee
Jack Nicholson ... Col. Nathan R. Jessep
Demi Moore ... Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway
Kevin Bacon ... Capt. Jack Ross
Kiefer Sutherland ... 2nd. Lt. Jonathan Kendrick
Kevin Pollak ... Lt. Sam Weinberg
James Marshall ... Pfc. Louden Downey
J.T. Walsh ... Lt. Col. Matthew Andrew Markinson
Christopher Guest ... Dr. Stone
J.A. Preston ... Judge Julius Alexander Randolph
Matt Craven ... Lt. Dave Spradling
Wolfgang Bodison ... Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson
Xander Berkeley ... Capt. Whitaker
John M. Jackson ... Capt. West
Noah Wyle ... Cpl. Jeffrey Barnes
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Storyline

In this dramatic courtroom thriller, LT Daniel Kaffee, a Navy lawyer who has never seen the inside of the courtroom, defends two stubborn Marines who have been accused of murdering a colleague. Kaffee is known as being lazy and had arranged for a plea bargain. Downey's Aunt Ginny appoints Cmdr. Galloway to represent him. Also on the legal staff is LTJG Sam Weinberg. The team rounds up many facts and Kaffee is discovering that he is really cut out for trial work. The defense is originally based upon the fact that PFC Santiago, the victim, was given a "CODE RED". Santiago was basically a screw-up. At Gitmo, screw-ups aren't tolerated. Especially by Col. Nathan Jessup. In Cuba, Jessup and two senior officers try to give all the help they can, but Kaffee knows something's fishy. In the conclusion of the film, the fireworks are set off by a confrontation between Jessup and Kaffee. Written by Matt Curtolo <curt@epix.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You can't handle the truth! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer Aaron Sorkin got the story idea from his sister, who in real life experienced a very similar incident at Guantanamo from the "Lieutenant Commander Galloway" perspective as a female JAG attorney. In that incident, the victim was similarly assaulted by nine Marines and was badly injured, but did not die. Sorkin initially turned the idea into a play, and then this screenplay, which was his first. See more »

Goofs

Before their first meeting Danny tells JoAnne to bring all the proficient and conduct reports on Dawson, Downey and Santiago but she brings only medical reports. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Drill Master: Forward, march!
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in WrestleMania 21 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

The Stars and Stripes Forever
(uncredited) (1896)
Written by John Philip Sousa
See more »

User Reviews

 
Sorkin and Reiner create a fun but imperfect courtroom drama with a lighter tone
24 July 2017 | by mvpeter24See all my reviews

Aaron Sorkin leaves a unique mark on all his work, and if you like "The West Wing," you'll like this movie, even if it is imperfect.

A Few Good Men is about the trial of two US Marines stationed in Cuba who have been charged with killing one of their peers in a hazing ritual. They are appointed attorneys Lt. Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and Lt. Commander Galloway (Demi Moore). The two attorneys feud at first, but end up working together to expose a sinister cover-up job within the Marines.

Sorkin does what he does best in "A Few Good Men": writing intelligent, engaging, and wit-filled dialogue. The characters feel like real people because they talk like real people. The wit in the dialogue also adds a lot of levity to this film with a pretty dark subject matter. Characters toss out jokes at each other that never feel out of place or silly, setting a nice tone for the entire movie. Some parts of the film have the potential to be dry, but they never are due to the nature of the dialogue.

Since the film is based on Sorkin's stage play and the screenplay is written by Sorkin, so his idiosyncrasies come through much more strongly than those of the actual director, Rob Reiner. As the case of many films based on stage plays, film elements like cinematography and editing take the back seat to dialogue and acting. It's a good thing that the performances across the board do the script justice.

The criticism I have of the film is just how predictably things unfold. Big reveals and turning points in the case are predicted by the characters during trial preparation meetings. When these big reveals actually happen in the courtroom, the audience is already expecting them, and their power is lost. The underwhelming reveals pale in comparison to films like "12 Angry Men," or other similar court dramas with unexpected narrative twists.

The film is also pretty uncompelling on a larger, thematic level. It seems to be an indictment of the "for the greater good" moral system that the military operates with. Military bigwig Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) is a stereotypical testosterone-filled figure with warrior-like pride. Jessup is not likable and not very complex at all, an easy target for the audience to vilify. Even lower-ranking soldiers are blamed for following orders that perpetuate the military's culture. The film almost comes off as purely anti-military more than anti-military culture.

In a lot of ways, "A Few Good Men " plays like a long episode of the West Wing. Sorkin's style comes through clearly and the film is fun, even though it feels like it could have reached greater heights.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

11 December 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Few Good Men See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$41,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,517,468, 13 December 1992

Gross USA:

$141,340,178

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$243,240,178
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR | Dolby Atmos

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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