Welcome To The 'Nam
, 03 Apr 2011
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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Platoon has one of the most powerful film soundtracks; straight off the bat, 'That,' song comes on. We are greeted by Chris Taylor, (Sheen) who is sick.
'Hell is the impossibility of reason,' Taylor muses. He then goes on to say that 'The unwritten rule is the new guy's life isn't worth as much because he hasn't put in the time yet'. Later on we are treated to : 'Day by day I struggle to maintain not only by strength but my sanity.' The three or four blocks of narration from Taylor are what make the film, rather like, (to a small extent) Red's narration during the Shawshank Redemption.
This film pulls no punches and illustrates how difficult it is for the new recruits - Taylor has to get used to digging for a sh*t; clearing out other soldiers' slosh and No-one talks to the new guys. As if thats not enough to deal with there is the constant threat of death.
Taylor grows as a soldier as time goes on. During the first week Gardener and Taylor are on ambush alert and unfortunately Taylor is blamed for Gardener's death, (when in fact Gardener was the one asleep). - The bad alpha Sargeant remarks : 'Doc take him and bag him'
Platoon accurately explains the Nam situation. They're the unwanted fighting for society - the grunts since they can take anything. The other recruits are surprised that Taylor, from a more privledged background, dropped out of college and volunteered. (They have had to no choice but to sign up and they will be going back to not much).
There are light hearted moments for the troops when they smoke marijuana and drink Bud. This is the only time that these poor guys get the chance to let their hair down.
Taylor is a complex character. The group find a load of maps etc when they get into an empty Vietnamese bunker and ammo. There are traps and a colleague is killed. Therefore they get revenge in the village. Chris Taylor loses it and shoots down at the floor at a Vietnamese guy and he almost starts dancing. Its one of the most famous or even infamous scenes in cinema history. Taylor does indeed feel awful afterwards. - Bunny, (the psychopathic soldier) has no feelings like that and bludgeons him to death.
However to some extent Taylor redeems himself and shows he is indeed human when he stops some of his compadres committing a criminal act against a couple of village women.
Theres a good gun fight halfway into the film which feels very realistic and its a relief when it happens. Thats one of the reasons that this film doesn't score a even higher marks there is too much down time but surely Stone wants to show the viewer 360 degrees of their existence.
At this point Barnes, (the bad alpha male of the corps) shoots Elias (the good alpha male) in the forest when no-one else is about. It is assumed that Elias has died and when they are all helicoptered into the air to safety, Taylor spots Elias being chased by the Viet Cong and getting shot to death. This is one of most moving parts and Elias dies in that symbolic manner with both his arms held up to the sky.
Before the final shoot out Barnes says to O'Neil (of Scrubs and Wall Street fame), 'You have to die sometime, (proleptic irony). During the final big gun fight at the end the viewer sees the red in Barnes' eyes as he is about to club Taylor to death and at that precise moment the air strike finally arrives obliterating everything, (and saving Taylor's skin).
Upon awakening Taylor kills Barnes; after Sargeant Barnes goades him by saying, 'Do it!'
The ending is a good result for Taylor as he is airlifted out of the hell zone to hospital. He breaks down in tears in another very moving scene.
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