Graphic realiztion of the Vietnam War.
mdtinney - wrote on 08/26/09
This film is timeless and describes the reality of the Vietnam war better than any other. This film is not hollywood and it is not surreal. It is reality. The film does try to be black and white and is not afraid to show the complexities facing fighting men in Vietnam. However, the real greatness of this film is in the gritty realism of the characters. Stone gathered a great and diverse collection of actors. Each character well developed and unique. In deed, the viewers are allowed to look at these characters and choose which one best represents them and in that, perhaps sees how they might have done in Vietnam. Charlie Sheen's character is innocence, heading for war. When he arrives in Vietnam, he must make the choice of what kind of soldier he will be. Will he emulate Sargent Barnes, a hardcore lifer that believes in killing them all and staying alive? Or will Sheen's character choose to join the souls under Sargent Elias, a compassionate veteran, who realizes that American soldiers are still human beings and should act as such. The greatness of this film, is that the choice is not cut and dry. Barnes represents the frustration of many grunts in Vietnam. The frustration of seeing many friends die and not knowing who your enemy is. The frustration of being placed in a foreign land and not knowing how to win. Many young men see Barnes as their savior, the man that will kill the enemy and keep them alive. Although Barnes is evil, one can see why men would be attracted to him. However, for many, Barnes is the worst of what war turns people into. These optimists cling to their humanity and to Elias, a Christ-like figure that attempts to keep the souls of those young soldiers pure. This film takes the viewer to Vietnam and puts them in the jungle. It shows us why we would never ever want to be there. It shows us many different and diverse characters, some we relate with, others that we abhor. It shows why Vietnam was unique and why we were not able to win there. It is not a fun film to watch, but war is never fun. Great film that comes as close to perfection as any film can. Great performance and great direction. See it!