A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men photo starrating-5stars.jpgWhat a cast! Two U.S. Marines, are on trial for the murder of William Santiago, a fellow private in their unit. Were the men acting under orders or was it a pre-meditated decision of their own?  Aaron Sorkin adapts his own 1989 Broadway play. His script crackles with intelligence as it entertains simply with words that fly fast and furious. Nowhere is this more true than in the courtroom arena. Jack Nicholson’s famous line in the climatic scene is pretty much the stuff of movie legend. He got the showiest role and the Academy Award nomination. He’s genuinely excellent as the proud and supercilious Colonel Nathan Jessup. But the rest of the company matches his talent. Tom Cruise and Demi Moore exhibit a witty repartee as the defense, Kevin Pollack rounds out their team with sagacious support, Kevin Bacon exudes confidence as the prosecutor and Kiefer Sutherland is all seething hostile aggression as Lieutenant Kendrick, Jessup’s right hand man. Everyone is in fine form. Sorkin’s writing is brilliant. A literate examination of the Marine Corps and their code of honor is at the heart of this expose. The actors give his language the dramatic weight that elevate this production into a document of military life that feels essential. 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Few Good Men. These are the reasons I love courtroom dramas.

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26 Responses to “A Few Good Men”

  1. I need to see this one. I have it on the DVR, and as a HUGE Jack Nicholson fan, I’m not sure why I haven’t watched it yet.

    • I noticed you clicked “not interested” on Flixster so I thought maybe you just weren’t a fan of courtroom dramas. I know how you feel about Kramer vs. Kramer.

      • I’ve actually thought of cancelling my Flixster profile, actually. It’s so outdated, and I’m not really sure why I have this one down as “Not Interested.”

        And I am a fan of courtroom dramas, actually. You mention 12 Angry Men and To Kill a Mockingbird in the final paragraph, both which I love.

        Wait a moment, wait a moment…since when is Kramer vs. Kramer a courtroom drama? Oh wait, it’s Kramer VS. Kramer, not that other film I was thinking of where Dustin Hoffman’s the almost comically inept father, and Meryl Streep’s the woman who we’re always cheering for, yet she’s never on the screen. I think I saw the latter film. 😉

  2. Nice review. I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin, but I didn’t really love this one as much as his later works. Jack Nicholson’s great in his role.

    • I remember your less than enthusiastic review back in November. “Tom Cruise…acted as comic relief for 90% of the film.” I remember really loving it when I first saw it 20 years ago, but wasn’t sure if the movie would still hold up. I’m happy to say it’s even better than I remember it. I thought Tom Cruise hit just the right amount of arrogance vs. acumen to make his character charismatic, but believable as the superstar lawyer that he really is. I think we can all agree Jack Nicholson is incredible.

  3. Old school, here. 😉 This film is great. And quotable, too. Jessop is fantastic, one of Jack’s greatest roles. Awesome flick!

    • I’ll resist quoting Jack Nicholson’s oft-repeated line because there’s so much other great dialogue from the movie too. It’s Aaron Sorkin for goodness’ sake! 🙂

  4. Just saw this for the first time. It was excellent. The dialog and acting were stellar. Definitely a five star movie.

  5. This has been watched quite a few times in my household. Nice review!

  6. It’s been a while since I saw this but I remember liking it. That iconic line from Jack Nicholson is still being used today, amazing!

  7. Points for using the word “supercilious.”

    And Demi Moore was actually good in this? I need to revisit this movie.

    • I realize the choices are limited, but arguably Demi’s best performance. What else is there? Ghost? Disclosure? Margin Call?

      • The Scarlet Letter? Nothing but Trouble? Striptease? G.I. Jane? Charlie’s Angels 2? Passion of Mind? Oh wait, those are all Razzies, not Oscars….

        Honestly, though, have you seen St. Elmo’s Fire? It’s not a good movie (or at least everyone else seems to think so, plus it’s directed by Joel Schumacher), but I really enjoyed it. She stars among at least half the cast from The Breakfast Club, which is exciting.

  8. I love this film and watched when it aired on TV last week. You did a nice job of collecting your superlatives about the film. And I belive you did a fine review. But I wonder about something.

    How come we almost never read any comments about about J.A.Preston who did such a fine job as Judge Randolph. As he said – And the witness will address this court as “Judge” or “Your Honor.” I’m quite certain I’ve earned it. Take your seat, Colonel.

    • Agreed. J.A.Preston was good. Seems as if the judges in these movies never get their due.

      He popped up on many TV shows throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. A cursory glance at his imdb.com page also shows he was in Body Heat (1981) and Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985).

    • Yes, I thought that line was classic.

  9. Fantastic, succint review. Great work, Mark!

  10. Ashamed to say that I still haven’t seen this movie in its entirety. Only bits and pieces on TV. I love Aaron Sorkin’s writing and it has a fantastic cast, so I imagine I’ll enjoy it when I finally sit down to watch the whole thing.

  11. Nice, fun, quick review of a fantastic courtroom drama. Did you know Michelle Pfeifer was the first choice to play Lieutenant Commander Galloway but apparently the studio wanted someone “tougher.” Richard Dreyfuss really wanted to play Colonel Jessup but Reiner opted for Nicholson instead. I think it was the right choice.

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