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Casualties of War

A movie directed by Brian De Palma

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  • Feb 4, 2000
Pros: Michael wins in the end

Cons: There are no winners in war

This dark and brooding reflection of a troop in the Vietnam conflict shows the results of children having a little power and watching it spiral into Hell.

Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn (God, they were both babies) gave insightful peeks into the devastation that results from exposure to the violent and evil side of life.

Sean Penn, barely 20, 'leads' his troop on one final mission but has been in the brush too long. He has seen too much for a kid, his mind has turned that corner and he is out of control. He decides to "get a girl" and kidnaps a young local and he and the troop - um, - have their way with her.

Michael J. Fox, young married with a heavy heart and clear head, objects to the treatment and torture of the girl but doesn't stop it, can't stop it.

In the end, Penn looses what little sense of morals he had left and kills the girl in a most violent way (now that was an oxymoron) and Michael takes the info to his superiors. They don't want to hear it - boys will be boys theory - and Michael realizes he is beating a dead horse.

After drinking one too many beers he confesses to the chaplain and the entire episode is investigated after all, the body of the girl is retrieved and of course, everyone thinks Michael J. is the bad guy because he broke the brush code of honor.

A truly violent and unspeakable look into what is probably a little bit more truth than lie 'in the brush'. This movie as opposed to Thin Red Line, Private Ryan, etc., gives you insight into the real casualties of war, the compromise of your personal values.


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


After being denied the chance to go to a nearby village to visit a prostitute before starting a a reconnaissance mission, a tough, embittered American sergeant (Sean Penn) involves the four men of his patrol in the kidnapping of a young Vietnamese woman. The impending gang rape and murder of the woman splits the patrol into two factions, those for it, and those against it--with young Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) leading the dissension. But before long, the sergeant has convinced everyone but Eriksson to go along with the plan, making an already difficult mission unbearable for the morally conscious young soldier. Penn gives a powerful performance in this brutal, thoughtful war film from a script by playwright David Rabe (HURLYBURLY).
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Director: Brian De Palma
Release Date: 1989
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (December 11, 2001)
Runtime: 2hr 0min
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