Everyone knows about that scene. It’s impossible to avoid, and having heard about it and seen it so frequently referenced in pockets of pop culture, I decided I’d avoid A Few Good Men until I absolutely, desperately wanted to watch it. As it turns out, I’d underestimated how much I wanted to see this Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson courtroom drama. An impressive, boastful cast of big-name actors bring together a Rob Reiner directed piece, based on a stage play by the feverishly talented Aaron Sorkin. It’s a crime that I didn’t check this one out earlier, especially since I hold such a high regard for Nicholson’s performances. Better late than never I suppose.
A frankly superb performance from Nicholson isn’t anything out of the ordinary. His commanding lead in his handful of scenes is a certainly exceptional piece of the film. That unfiltered, rage inducing performance is such a staple of the film that A Few Good Men would be completely lost without it. Aside from this stupendous performance is the ever underrated J.T. Walsh who provides an exceptional supporting role throughout. In fact, it’s surprising to see how many familiar faces litter the court room halls and military bases throughout. Kiefer Sutherland also appears in a supporting capacity, a solid role from his younger years as an actor.
There are pockets of Americanised dialogue throughout, pieces of scenes reserved for highlighting how important the country and its troops are. Nothing wrong with that, but it derails the film rather rapidly when it begins to drown itself in overtly typical moments of the Tom Cruise genre. He gets the girl, his cocky and charismatic attitude overwhelm Daniel Kaffee, the line between Kaffee and Maverick blurring from time to time. A Few Good Men certainly feels the impact of this, but Cruise is an exceptional lead for the most part. The fast-paced information splurge offered to us by Cruise in the court room scenes is marvellous, not because it’s meritable but because I’m a sucker for Reiner’s pacing within these climactic moments.
A fair bit of discourse surrounding A Few Good Men would, I assume, pick apart how the film has become a substantially crucial viewing for just about any film fan. It’s a film that pretty much everyone has seen, even those that haven’t seen it at least know the one resounding moment. It’s well worth the watch, Reiner’s tight direction paves the way for a great host of performances. If it weren’t for the flatlining Cruise sentimentality and the shoehorned romantic subplots then this would be a thoroughly engaging courtroom drama piece basing itself on some very talented writing. Living up to the high esteem it receives from being a classic of the 1990s, A Few Good Men is a strong audience pleaser with more than its fair share of memorable moments.