Was reminded of and therefore revisited the 1992 movie A Few Good Men a few nights ago and once again thoroughly enjoyed it! The last time having been almost two decades ago, I’m glad it still has the power to move me.
Admittedly the main reason for checking it out all those years ago was Tom Cruise – I used to have such a crush on him but then again which teenage girl didn’t (correct me if I’m wrong)? Then with wisdom acquired over the years, came the realization my liking for Tom Cruise was limited only to his handsomeness but hardly his acting. However, his performance in A Few Good Men was and still proves to be a great exception in my eyes.
Tom Cruise portrays the intelligent, talented, yet laid-back U.S. Navy lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee. With his nonchalance and penchant for plea bargains, he initially drives Demi Moore’s Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway, a naval investigator and lawyer, up the wall when their paths cross in the defense of two U.S. Marines accused of murdering a fellow Marine. Another distinguished character is Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup, the villain behind it all.
My Take On A Few Good Men
As with most courtroom-type movies, the main premise centers around whether or not the protagonist succeeds (which he or she usually does, one way or another) in defending his or her clients and how he or she delivers the ultimate punch line.
It’s always interesting to see what unassuming pieces of evidence end up becoming the deal breaker. In this case, it was articles of clothing and phone calls, or lack thereof. The victim, Private Santiago, who purportedly had been approved for transfer and was to leave base by the earliest flight the next day, wasn’t packed and all his things were still kept neatly in his cupboard. In addition, he’d made no phone calls to anyone informing them of the good news considering how ecstatic he should’ve been if the transfer approval was indeed true. These plus the shrewd badgering by Tom Cruise’s Lieutenant Kaffee were what broke Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup into admitting he’d ordered a “code red” – an unofficial, extrajudicial punishment – on Private Santiago. The two unfortunate Marines who got their hands dirty and ended up being on the stand were merely strictly following orders.
Rightfully so, the two Marines were acquitted of murder charges. However, the final twist came when they were dishonorably discharged due to “conduct unbecoming of a United States Marine”. How come? Wasn’t it proven beyond doubt that they, as subordinates, were doing what’s been ingrained into their heads which is to follow orders, no matter what? Apparently they should have thought things through and denied the “code red” directive in defence of the hapless victim. Having forgotten the ending from my first viewing, I’d totally unexpected this final outcome and was almost positive the two Marines would be cleared of all charges and reinstated to their respective ranks pronto. This leads me to question when is it appropriate for orders to be denied in an establishment whereby abiding commands is a code members are strictly required to live by? Perhaps in this case it’s because it involves the unofficial “code red” order which calls for discretion on the part of the executioners?
With a gripping yet simple storyline, smart dialog, stellar performances by the cast, A Few Good Men enthralls from start to finish. Definitely adding this to my “all-time favorites”.