Born on the Fourth of July Review

Director: Oliver Stone

Writers: Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic

Cast: Tom Cruise(Ron Kovic), Raymond J. Barry (Mr. Kovic), Caroline Kava (Mrs. Kovic), Frank Whaley (Timmy), Jerry Levine (Steve Boyer), Willem Dafoe (Charlie), etc.

Running Time: 145 minutes

Ron Kovic seemed like an average kid living in New York in post World-War 2 era America. His country, coming off of a hard-fought victory over Japan, experienced a time of heightened nationalism in the late 40’s and 50’s. A natural-born athlete, Kovic both wrestled and pole vaulted in high school. Kovic, along with a few of his friends, saw an opportunity to enlist in the Marines with tensions in Vietnam rising. He enlisted in the military and his story starts to get interesting from there.

Kovic’s tune drastically changed as the film proceeded. In a particular scene, Kovic berated his friend Steve (Jerry Levine) for wanting to get a college degree instead of joining the Marines. Later in the film it turns out that Steve may have made the right decision after all.

In that scene, Kovic revealed his thoughts on fighting in the military. In my opinion, Kovic was too harsh with Steve there. He should have been more supportive of his friend’s wishes. His idealism with America was evident. The U.S had far and away the most powerful military in the world. To him, there was no reason not to be hopeful for the future of the country. Comparing that clip with one around 30 minutes after it shows Kovic’s change of heart.

Kovic’s experiences in Vietnam changed him drastically in both physical and mental nature. (Spoilers ahead). He came back from Vietnam paralyzed and battered. Tom Cruise’s physical movements actually helped show how broken Kovic was in that moment. He really made me feel pain for the fight that was going on within him. What were they fighting for in Vietnam? He explained that it was all lies that they fed to him before he went to fight. Kovic’s idealism of America was dead after that.

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Cruise and Kovic side by side.

In Born on the Fourth of July Tom Cruise gave an extremely accurate portrayal of what Vietnam veterans went through. He delivered a stellar performance throughout the film. After I watched this, it cemented Cruise as one of the best actors alive. Although there was a problem with his part. He didn’t fit the role. I couldn’t picture Tom Cruise as a Vietnam War veteran. My image of Cruise as he is now just didn’t add up to make his look believable. Cruise’s look may seem like a nit picky problem, but I couldn’t get past it. His performance however, was phenomenal.

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Cruise’s look just didn’t work for me. I couldn’t picture him like this.

Oliver Stone was a veteran of the Vietnam War and you can tell that he implanted some of his experiences in his films. He understands the intricacies of the Vietnam War because he lived through it. Kovic’s story added with Stone’s depiction of the war in Vietnam did wonders for Born on the Fourth of July. The film seemed to paint more of a picture on soldiers suffering from PTSD which I liked. There are too many war films that forget about that important aspect. Kovic’s story is pretty remarkable and Stone was able to do it justice on the big screen.

I give Born on the Fourth of July a

3.0 out of 4

 

 

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