Cruise is the young athlete Ron Kovic, an idealistic and patriotic American who joins the Marines to fight in the Vietnam War. When he gets there, his brash eagerness is diluted by horror when he accidentally kills one of his own men. The pains in his heart are compounded by a bullet wound that leaves him paralyzed from the chest down. Returning home, he steadfastly clings to his national spirit, which puts him in conflict with the populace's growing aversion to the mess in Vietnam. He winds up in Mexico as a tormented drunkard, then reforms and becomes an anti-Vietnam activist, writing the autobiographical book on which this movie is based.
This movie is tremendously powerful because of its acute historical significance, strong anti-war message, and Tom Cruise's stunning acting. The movie is sad and wrenching, but it ends with an uplifting note of someone who rises above the pain and hate to a stronger condition. This is Oliver Stone's best film, I think. I also love the score by John Williams; the movie's theme does an incredible job evoking the feelings behind some of America's most painful years.
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