Rated: R For violence and language. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: December 11, 1992 Released by: Columbia Pictures
Director Rob Reiner has taken Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of his Broadway play and turned it into a powerful flowing vehicle for his stars to excel in.
Young Navy lawyer Lieutenant (JG) Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is assigned to defend two low-ranking Marines (James Marshall and Wolfgang Bodison) who are accused of murdering a fellow Marine by following an unsanctioned disciplinary procedure called "Code Red". Lt. Commander Joanne Galloway (Demi Moore) who becomes a member of the defense team believes, the attack was instigated and covered up by the top brass at the American base in Cuba, lead by Colonel Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson).
Kaffee, known as the best plea bargainer in military service, is slow t agree with Galloway, but eventually places his future on the line by challenging Jessep on the stand during the court martial. Between Kaffee's lack of interest and the trial, Reiner flashes back and makes a clear villain of Jessep who, to the end, believes his actions, though illegal and against Marine policy, are necessary to keep the enemy from his troops and the American people. The investigation by the defense team is well presented and interesting to follow. Cruise is perfect as the cute young lieutenant who wants to play softball and stay out of court. Moore is strong and convincing as a professional military lawyer with a mission, as is Kevin Bacon as the competent disciplined prosecutor in the trial. Kiefer Sutherland reaches a new dimension in his career as a cold and chilling company commander.
Nicholson has only three scenes in this film but his character has a presence and power hanging over the film like a toxic layer of smog. Reiner uses close-ups of Nicholson's face in which distortions of his eyes, nostrils and mouth telegraph his arrogant limited understanding of his responsibility. Nicholson could easily be nominated as best supporting actor for this role and perhaps for best actor in Hoffa; no one plays a bad guy so good.
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