Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Few Good Men

Movie Name: A Few Good Men
Year of Release: 1992
Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Pollak, James Marshall, J.T. Walsh, Christopher Guest, J.A. Preston, Matt Craven, Xander Berkeley, Noah Wyle, 
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Director Rob Reiner had a remarkable streak of successful films in the late 80s, which included "Stand By Me", "The Princess Bride" and "When Harry Met Sally". He started the 90s with the well received "Misery", which he quickly followed with "A Few Good Men", a prestige film, who for all intentions, was suppose to be the big Oscar ticket of 1992 (it wasn't, the honor was bestowed on Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven", but also on James Ivory's "Howard's End", both of which ended up eating the lion share of the awards that year). The film is an adaptation of Aaron Sorkin's play, and follows the story of two marines who are accused of murdering one of their colleagues, and the team that is put in place in order to defend them. The defense team is headed by Lt. Daniel Kaffee, who is well known for making deals, and who has never had to tackle cases in the courtroom. He is aided by Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway and Lt. Sam Weinberg. The premise for their defense, relies on the fact that their clients were given orders to execute the mandate of their superior, who ordered a "Code Red" on the victim. That superior, Col. Nathan Jessup, is a stoic and impenetrable individual, and it's up to this team to figure out a way to uncover the truth and save their clients. 
Rob Reiner has always managed to work efficiently, illustrating smartly written scripts in a way that allows for characters to be effectively drawn. "A Few Good Men" is no exception: Aaron Sorkin's writing allows for the characters to be succinctly flushed out, in terms of who they are, what their motivations are, all wrapped in this plot of uncovering why those young men committed such a heinous crime. It is a courtroom drama, a genre that has seen some classics, such as Robert Mulligan's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and even Otto Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder", and while this film doesn't ascend to those heights, it does allow for a good cast to interact and have some solid performances, particularly Jack Nicholson, who in the few moments he has in the film, outshines everyone and walks away with the entire feature. It's a film that is narratively linear, lacking a more distinctive point of view from the director, one that can take that narrative to different heights, but nonetheless it allows for the suspenseful storyline to unfold at a leisurely pace. It also allows for Tom Cruise and Kevin Bacon to show their versatility (while again Demi Moore is lost, and only plays the character in a singular way). The cinematography from Robert Richardson is fantastic, as is the score of the talented Marc Shaiman. Worth watching.