Neo military lawyer Kaffee defends Marines accused of murder; they contend they were acting under orders.
Release Year: 1992
Rating: 7.6/10 (87,961 voted)
Critic's Score: 62/100
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore
In this dramatic courtroom thriller, LTJG Daniel Kaffee, a Navy lawyer who has never seen the inside of the courtroom, defends two stubborn Marines who have been accused of murdering a colleague. Kaffee is known as being lazy and had arranged for a plea bargain. Downey's Aunt Ginny appoints Cmdr. Galloway to represent him. Also on the legal staff is Lt. Sam Weinberg. The team rounds up many facts and Kaffee is discovering that he is really cut out for trial work. The defense is originally based upon the fact that PFC Santiago, the victim, was given a "CODE RED". Santiago was basically a screw-up. At Gitmo, screw-ups aren't tolerated. Especially by Col. Nathan Jessup. In Cuba, Jessup and two senior officers try to give all the help they can, but Kaffee knows something's fishy. In the conclusion of the film, the fireworks are set off by a confrontation between Jessup and Kaffee.
Writers: Aaron Sorkin, Aaron Sorkin
Lt. Daniel Kaffee
Col. Nathan R. Jessup
Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway
Capt. Jack Ross
Lt. Jonathan Kendrick
Lt. Sam Weinberg
Pfc. Louden Downey
Lt. Col. Matthew Andrew Markinson
Judge Julius Alexander Randolph
Lt. Dave Spradling
Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson
John M. Jackson
Cpl. Jeffrey Barnes
In the heart of the nation's capital, in a courthouse of the U.S. government, one man will stop at nothing to keep his honor, and one will stop at nothing to find the truth.
Release Date: 11 December 1992
Filming Locations: Backlot, Warner Brothers Burbank Studios – 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California, USA
Box Office Details
Did You Know?
the screenwriter appears as a lawyer in a bar talking to a woman about one of his cases.
In the last courtroom scene, after Col. Jessup has struggled with the Marine in an attempt to get at Kaffee, you can clearly see stage makeup smeared on his shirt collar and tie.
Thought Provoking Drama From Rob Reiner
In one of the most telling scenes in this movie, Navy Lieutenant Commander
Jo Galloway (Demi Moore), a lawyer who is helping to defend two Marines on
trial for murder, is asked why she likes these guys so much. And she
replies, `Because they stand on a wall, and they say nothing is going to
hurt you tonight, not on my watch'.' Which veritably sums up the sense of
duty and honor which underscores the conflict of `A Few Good Men,' directed
by Rob Reiner, and starring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. There is a code
by which a good Marine must live and die, and it is: Unit, Corps, God,
Country. But to be valid, that code must also include truth and justice;
and if they are not present, can the code stand? Which is the question
asked by director Reiner, who examines the parameters of that code with this
film, which centers on the murder of a young Private First Class named
William Santiago, who was killed while stationed at the Marine Corps base at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The case draws the attention of Commander Galloway,
Special Counsel for Internal Affairs in the Judge Advocate General's Corps
in Washington, D.C. Galloway, taking into consideration the impeccable
service records of the two Marines charged with the crime, convinces her
superiors that a thorough investigation is warranted in this case, though
there are those in high places who would rather see this one plea bargained
and put to rest.
Galloway persists, however, believing that Santiago's death may have
resulted from a `Code Red,' a method of disciplinary hazing employed in
certain circles of the Corps, though illegal. And if this was a Code Red,
the real question is, who gave the order? Ultimately, her tenacity
prevails, but though Galloway is a seasoned lawyer, she has little actual
courtroom experience, so Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Cruise) is assigned to
the case, along with Lieutenant Sam Weinberg (Kevin Pollak), with Galloway,
as ranking officer, to assist. Kaffee, the son of a legendary lawyer, has
skated through the first nine months of his Naval career, successfully plea
bargaining forty-four cases. Outwardly upbeat and personable, Kaffee seems
more concerned with his softball game than he does with the time he has to
spend on the job. But underneath, he's coping with living his life in the
shadow of his late father's reputation, which is an issue with which he must
come to terms if he is to successfully effect the outcome of this case. And
on this one he will have a formidable opponent: Colonel Nathan R. Jessup
(Nicholson), who commands the base at Guantanamo.
As Jessup, Nicholson gives a commanding performance, and once he enters the
film you can sense the tension he brings to it, which begins to swell
immediately, and which Reiner does a great job of maintaining right up to
the end. Jessup is a soldier of the old guard, a man of narrow vision and a
particular sense of duty; to Jessup there's two ways of doing things: His
way and the wrong way. He's a man who– as he says– eats breakfast three
hundred yards away from the enemy, and he's not about to let a couple of
lawyers in dress whites intimidate him. And that's exactly the attitude
Nicholson brings to this role. When he speaks, you not only hear him loud
and clear, you believe him. It's a powerful performance and, as you would
expect from Nicholson, entirely convincing and believable.
Cruise, also, gives what is arguably one of the best performances of his
career as Kaffee. He perfectly captures the aloofness with which Kaffee
initially regards the case, as well as the determination with which he
pursues it later. Cruise is convincing in the role, and some of the best
scenes in the film are the ones he plays opposite Nicholson in the
courtroom, the most memorable being one in which Kaffee exclaims to Jessup,
`I want the truth!' to which Jessup replies, `You can't handle the truth!'
And the atmosphere fairly crackles.
Moore is outstanding, as well, and she manages to hold her own and make her
presence felt even in the scenes dominated by Nicholson and Cruise. It's a
fine piece of acting by Moore, who deserves more than just a passing mention
for it. Also turning in notable performances are Pollak, whose dry humor
adds such an extra touch to the film, and Wolfgang Bodison, who makes an
impressive screen debut as Lance Corporal Dawson, on of the Marines on trial
for the murder of Santiago.
The supporting cast includes Kiefer Sutherland (Kendrick), Kevin Bacon
(Ross), James Marshall (Downey), J.T. Walsh (Markinson), Cuba Gooding Jr.
(Hammaker) and Christopher Guest (Dr. Stone). A powerful drama, superbly
delivered by Reiner, `A Few Good Men' is a thought provoking, unforgettable
motion picture that makes you take pause for a moment to consider some
things that are for the most part out of sight and out of mind. Like who is
on that wall tonight, and are we safe because of him. And it makes you
reflect upon some things perhaps too often taken for granted. And that's
what really makes this film so good; and it's all a part of the magic of the
movies. I rate this one 10/10.