Friday, July 9, 2010

A Few Good Men (1992)

Stars : Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, Wolfgang Bodison.

Director : Rob Reiner.

One of my favorite Jack Nicholson dialogues "You Can't Handle the Truth" and one of many exceptional monologues by Jack Nicholson is from this brilliant and hard hitting courtroom drama. I have seen it a few times before and saw it again yesterday.

Lance Corporal(LCpl)  Harold Dawson and Private First Class(Pfc) Lauden Dwoney are charged with the murder of Pfc William Santiago at the GITMO(Guantanamo Bay Naval BaseCuba). The division appoints Leuitenant Juinor Grade(LtJG) Daniel Kaffee(Tom Cruise) as the defense councillor in the court-martial of the two Marines. Kaffee has a reputation of settling cases without even entering the court through plea bargains.

Naval investigator and lawyer Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway wants to take charge as the defense council, she believes the two accused were ordered a "Code Red" a common practice of punishing Marines for offenses such as late for training, falling back in the pack etc. by their seniors but Kaffee is chosen over her for his reputation, as the Commanding officer at GITMO Colonel Nathan. R. Jessep is a very decorated officer, soon to take a very important post at the National Security Council and the  higher authorities want the case to be a very low key and quick affair. The way Kaffee and Joanne are able to unearth the truth, the courtroom trial form the core of the story and it would be unfair to reveal the whole story.

Whenever a story involves men in uniform its  bound to be a tale of  honour, justice, sacrifice and passion. A Few Good Men is no difference. The plot forms the crust of this movie's brilliance which is nicely decorated by brilliant performances and dialogues. Jack Nicholson as always is psychic and brilliant. His portrayal of Colonel Jessep is fabulous, he is strong, arrogant  and a man with purpose. There is never a question about his dialogue delivery but in the last section of this movie he delivers one of his best monologues and some of his best lines. When his methods are questioned, I could actually see the hatred in his heart for the civilians or men who work behind a desk. He wasn't Jack anymore, he was Colonel Jessep and that has always been his hallmark.

Tom Cruise gets the biggest share of screen space and had one of his best roles in the movie. He is good but I felt he lacked something through out, may be it was that he was working with actors better than him, I am not sure but he did good. I also felt may be his character required him not be perfect, a little bit of vulnerability was demanded and  in that case he scores high very high. He is extremely good in the latter part of the movie, specially in the courtroom. Its very hard for any actor to hold his own in front of Jack Nicholson and more so significant if he is in a mood like this one but Tom Cruise really shows his strength as an actor. Demi Moore always looks sexy in a uniform. Whether it was G.I Jane or this movie , whenever she has worn  a uniform she has looked good and an officer.  She gives a fine performance but is lost under the shadows of performances of her male co-stars. Kevin Pollak plays the subtle LtJG Sam Weinberg who lends a bit of calm to the team of our three investigators Kaffee, Joanne and third one himself. His confrontations with Joanne and Kaffee towards the end are quite beautiful sequences with very few dialogues.

This movie deserved actors of high caliber and it had but what it also needed was some fine writing. and there were really strong, beautiful dialogues and sequences in the movie. The movie is a screen adaptation of the play with same name by Aaron Sorkin. Even before the first show of the play Aaaron was contacted by studio to adapt his play for big screen. I think the director Rob Reiner also deserves as much credit as writer Aaron Sorkin for maintaining that tight hold over every scene which makes this a delight.The editing is sharp which makes the movie very engaging.

The movie was deservedly nominated for 4 Academy Awards and 5 Golden Globe including the best movie in both. Its one of the best courtroom dramas I have seen and its a must watch for all.

Plus : The plot, Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise and the dialogues.
Minus : May be none
Rating : 9/10

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