Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker
War is a “you had to be there” experience. No matter how believable actor boot camp makes performances, or how shaky the camera work is, there’s a certain level of bullshit attached to any film production that attempts to recreate the insanity and terror of war. That said, Platoon gets viewers as close to a pair of moldy combat boots as cinematically possible.
Writer/director Oliver Stone drew heavily from his own tour in Vietnam, where he served as a foot soldier, killed, and was twice wounded, for his Academy Award-winning story of a U.S. Army unit in Vietnam that goes mad from the senseless horror and confusion of the conflict and commits war crimes that cause soldiers to turn on each other. Carefully orchestrated to get details right, and boasting arresting images and performances (Tom Berenger is absolutely terrifying as physically and psychologically scarred Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes, who spearheads the boys-gone-wild atrocities), Platoon is one of the most important and haunting artistic statements about the quagmire that was the Vietnam War, and simply one of the finest war films ever made. —JM