A Few Good Men (1992)

fewgoodmen_1992_poster
A Few Good Men (1992)
  • Time: 138 min
  • Genre: Crime | Drama | Mystery
  • Director: Rob Reiner
  • Cast: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland

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.

2 reviews

  • Truly so many lines are memorable in this spectacular, old-fashioned designed court movie. It is a depiction of a plausible fact taking place today, but it reminds us of the best milestones of the genre, from the 40’s classics, to “12 Angry Men”, from “The Verdict” to “Presumed Innocent”.

    All the screen writing is smart and captivating, with a texture of sentences so thoughtful and sharp to make me wanting to see the theater play.

    All the film is a conversational path in which the two main characters are fated to clash, at the very end. In this sense, the Nicholson’s performance is both powerful and deceiving: in the diapason scene, the long “tirĂ©e” that he displays is really convincing and the audience, even if only for a second, is brought to believe that, the man is right after all. Only, the whole thing has nothing to do with the men charged with murder, and with the murder itself. That’s exactly where the trap works.

    All in all: great film, perfect built narration, convincing trial scenes, memorable lines. A notable work by director Reiner and especially by screenwriter Sorkin.

    Definetely, a great piece of cinema: 9/10.

  • In the eyes of the public, a United States Marine is the embodiment of toughness and physical prowess. They are disciplined, code-oriented, and courageous. But what happens when a Marine is not up to par with the others physically, and he wants to transfer to another base? According to Colonel Nathan Jessup (Nicholson), he needs to be “trained”, which, in Jessup’s mind, is hazing. This is the case with PFC William Santiago, a young Marine who repeatedly applied for a transfer because of his being bullied and tormented. During his “training,” Santiago died from a towel being shoved down his throat, and the two men have been arrested. The fate of these two men, who were just following orders, must be decided soon.
    Enter Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Cruise), a young and ultra-confident lawyer 9 months out of law school. He was assigned as the lead counselor in the case, in front of Commander Joanne Galloway (Moore). Just as Kaffee is wild and energetic, Galloway is serious and does her work with the rule book in hand.
    After meeting with the two Marines in custody, LCpl. Harold Dawson and Pvt. Louden Downey, Kaffee can already tell that this will be a tough case. With Jessup claiming that he never ordered the hazing, there is no evidence that Dawson and Downey were ordered. All of this has set the stage for the showdown behind the facade of a murder trial.

    I had seen this movie once before, about 6 months ago. On my first viewing, I thought it was relatively slow, and the climax came too late. However, this time around, I found it generally well-paced, and Jack Nicholson’s performance stood out more as well. The key to watching this movie is to stick with it. Put down the laptop, put your phone on silent, and avoid any other distractions, because they will take away from how the film plays. Nominated for 4 Oscars (Picture, Film Editing, Sound, and Best Supporting for Nicholson), the Academy agrees that this is a film worth paying attention to.
    The movie’s director, Rob Reiner, has possibly one of the most diverse and well-rounded directorial careers to date; in the director’s chair for such films as The Princess Bride, Misery, When Harry Met Sally, and Stand By Me. His work on this film is no different, and to me it is definitely one of his best works behind the camera.
    Jack Nicholson. He is the most Oscar-nominated actor in film history (12 times), and he still holds a presence in our society today. Winning Academy Awards for One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest, As Good As It Gets, and Terms of Endearment, Nicholson is tied for most wins for a male nominee. He turned in one of his signature performances in this film, and his monologue is legendary.
    I leave you with my one negative remark about this film. I have never been a fan of Tom Cruise, and I doubt I ever will. I would say that his performances while playing a jock or a hot-shot are great, but he plays it in every movie I’ve seen him in. In this movie, his attempts to be passionate come off as a brat who only cares about what he wants. Had it not been for Nicholson’s screen-time in the courtroom, the film’s most famous scene would have failed miserably.

    I had to take off a point because of Tom Cruise, but I have to. As the lead in the story, it is hard for me to look past him and not let him influence my views.

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