Ron Kovic’ story (played by Tom Cruise) is brought to life with heartbreaking and compelling force and is accompanied with great cinematography and music in this film directed by Oliver Stone in 1989.
The movie shows how Ron’s life changes dramatically after enrolling in the Marines and eventually going to the Vietnam war. He had grown up in the middle of a traditionally patriotic family and admired war heroes and soldiers since he was a kid, but now that he comes back from the battlefield, finds himself paralyzed from the waist down and traumatized by the killing of innocent people. However, his biggest shock begins at the Veterans Hospital, and later when he is “welcomed” back in his hometown. Not only his basic beliefs crumble, but he goes on to live in despair and self-pity in what looked like a bottomless pit of aimless self-indulgence. Alcohol, drugs, and visiting brothels in Mexico was his new life.
Tom Cruise, in his best role so far, transform himself as Kovic, an idealistic, naive young man turned into a deeply scarred and angry war veteran who, from his wheelchair, became one of the most outspoken anti-war activists of his times.
In one of the key scenes of the film, Ron Kovic confesses painfully to the family of a fellow soldier how he had killed their son accidentally in a confusing ambush. Powerfully moving, this and other scenes make of this superb movie a genuine piece of Americana that stays with you after the final notes of John Williams end and the beautiful photography by Robert Richardson goes dark.
See also with Tom Cruise: American Made (2017), Far And Away (1992), The Firm (1993)
See also directed by Oliver Stone: The Untold History of the United States (2012-2013), Alexander (2004), Heaven and Earth (1993), Salvador (1986)