Directed by Oliver Stone and released in 1986, this movie starts at Day One with a new recruit in the war in Viet Nam. I first saw this on videotape sometime in the late ’80s/early 90s, as it was definitely not the type of movie I wanted to watch on the big screen.
It has a lot of familiar faces, far more than I remember being in this movie. Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, John McGinley, Forrest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon and Johny Depp are the faces I most easily recognize, but there are others whose names I don’t know. And of course Oliver Stone is in a memorable bunker scene.
Platoon is a tough movie to watch. It just doesn’t get much more brutal than this. You see ugly things happen to American soldiers and you see ugly things done by American soldiers. Heart wrenching, stomach turning, gag inducing and it doesn’t let up for more than a moment before it hits you even harder in the next scene. This kind of stuff overwhelms me so it’s hard to talk about plot points, cinematography or realism of special effects. It’s just damned painful.
That said, it’s impossible to forget that the actors, each one, give their all. It’s difficult at times to remember that this is just a movie as they are immersed so completely in this insane landscape that you find yourself immersed as well. Horrifyingly realistic, it’s one of those movies I’d hoped never to watch again and likely would not have if not for this endeavor. Willem Dafoes’s iconic death scene easily includes the best and worst moments in the entire film.
The evil red glow in Barnes’ eyes as he moves in on Taylor, the deer (?) that Taylor saw or visualized after the deadly ambush – these brief images add to the many reasons that this movie belongs on this list.
“Don’t drink that, asshole. You’ll get malaria.”
“Yeah, I hope so.”