Movie #147 2020: A Few Good Men (1992)

There are a few quotes in movies that almost everyone has heard. This movie has one of them.

In a climactic courtroom scene, Jack Nicholson‘s Colonel Jessop is at a stand-off with Lieutenant Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise. When it all gets heated to boiling point, this iconic piece of dialogue is delivered with gusto:

Kaffee: I want the truth!

Jessop: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

You can vividly hear that line in your head, can’t you? Well, here’s my truth: I had no clue that it was from this movie before I watched it. But my God, does it pack a punch?

A Few Good Men is adapted from an Alan Sorkin play of the same name, in which we see two marines put to court-martial after being charged with the murder of a fellow soldier. Rather than focusing on the defendants, we take a look at their lawyers (Cruise and Demi Moore as Lieutenant Galloway), and the tribulations they face when trying to defend their clients. A military courtroom drama, if you will.

As usual, Tom Cruise is as unlikable as always as the laid-back leading lawyer on the case, and it absolutely filled me with delight to see Moore’s more straight-laced Galloway best him at every turn. The highlight performance of the bunch though obviously goes to Nicholson. He is so intense as the Colonel, showing off his acting chops and keeping me on the edge of my seat. If anything, I just wish he was in it more.

The plot was a little bit patchy, sadly. I was completely not interested for the first half hour, but when it got all lawyer-y and became a huge enigma and I was all in. However, I hate to say it, but I think that A Few Good Men probably worked better as its original stage play. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s a bit long and complicated for the material it has to go on. And that salute at the end? Too cheesy for me to handle.

On a technical note, I did love the way that they lit this movie. I’m not sure why, but it was all sun-kissed and lovely to look at. The cinematography and the score are super 90s, but I loved that about it.

Overall, iconic line aside, this is one of those films that – despite appreciating the technicality behind it – I just couldn’t love. Although parts of it are extremely compelling (the last twenty minutes especially), it was just too much content to trawl through, hence why I believe it would be more effective if you were to see it played out right in front of you on stage.

A Few Good Men is available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.

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