Directed by : Rob Reiner
Written by : Aaron Sorkin (play), Aaron Sorkin (screenplay)
Starring : Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon.
The story set in the American military base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba concerns the trial of two stubborn marines accused of the murder of a colleague. A navy lawyer (Cruise) is given the task of conviction by the military authorities because allied with his reputation for being lazy and his lack of trial experience it is hoped that a plea bargain would be the quickest and least embarrassing route.
This is confounded by his co-counsel (Moore) who believes that the accused were only following orders as to the procedure regarding self-policing by the military namely ‘CODE RED’, the victim being a habitual screw-up. This leads the lawyers into conflict and inevitable confrontation with the navy as represented by the overpowering Colonel Jessep (Nicholson).
Because the film is based on a play by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing) no less, one would expect a courtroom drama as sparkling as the shine on a marines shoes and to a certain extent is in these scenes that are the highlight of the movie. The problem is the leads realise this and try to wring the last drop of emotion from these interactions, which leaves the rest of the story sadly lacking. At least Nicholson has a certain gravitas because he has sense to see this and have a bit of fun with his character (and us).
Unfortunately neither Cruise nor Moore has the acting intelligence to tweak their characters thus making them little more than stereotypes. The other exception to this is Kevin Bacon who here, as always, finds unhidden depths in the sketchiest of characters. The blame must also be shared by Sorkin (as Screenwriter) and Reiner as I suspect the expansion of the story from an acclaimed play to a mainstream movie and the attendant Hollywood fluff (slacker struggling with authoritarian father, odd couple partners, etc.,) has lessened it’s dramatic impact.
For all this the film is entertaining enough even though contrived and formulaic a but a bit too much like a military drill in that we see the impressive shine but none of the spit behind it. What do you think about this movie. Share your thoughts in comments.
MoviesCrunch Rating – 7/10.