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A Few Good Men Movie Review

I remember when my mom would always watch “Columbo” during the day.  She still catches the reruns every so often, but before, the TV series about the unconventional and quirky police detective was a favorite past time of hers.  The show always delivered the exact, basic formula; the killer does away with whoever he needs to, with the crime and its motives spelled out for the audience as it happens; Columbo spends the latter half of the episode solving the case, and sooner or later gets his man.

Strange it is that a cop show would explain everything to the audience (crime, motive, perpetrators, etc.) in the early part of its episodes, only to have the detective be the only one to piece together the mystery.  However, if done right (like in the “Columbo” series), then there is a fun and engaging atmosphere that surrounds the story as the audience observes the steps taken in order to get the already known conclusion.  It’s always interesting to see the detectives and criminals try to play mind games with one another and force the plot to spiral in every which way as it induces us to wonder whether or not justice will be firmly and fairly served, or if the bad guys will get away in the end, grinning and sucking back on their stogies.

“A Few Good Men” is a movie made in this same manner.  Its plot is about the trial of two Marines charged with murdering one of their own platoon members –in the beginning portion of the film, we witness the murder and know everything about it, including the conspiracy behind it, including the C.O.s of the Marine base involvement.  What the movie itself is really about though, is the Marine’s defense attorney and his attempt to prove his clients not fully responsible.  Tough job, considering that reasonable evidence points the finger at the charged.  But then again, the defense attorney, Lt. Dan Cafey, is played by Tom Cruise.  And, as we all know, in any movie with Tom Cruise as the hero, he always comes out on top.

Of course, that’s before Jack Nicholson was his key antagonist.  And let’s face it, Nicholson could say or do anything he wanted and likely come out smelling like roses.  Here, Tom and Jack share two key scenes with each other that are the movie’s best parts.  The first is during Cafey’s initial investigation and the second, the more famous, is the courtroom interrogation.

***1/2 Stars

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