(Review originally written at 22 February 2007)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This still is the best and most powerful and gritty Vietnam war movie around.

It's a war movie that shocks and confronts not necessarily with its graphic images but more with its psychological elements. It shows what a war can do to common man and how it can make and break characters. So above everything, "Platoon" is really a character movie that tells the story of two different sergeants who clash and a young recruit being in the middle of it all.

The movie shows the duality of men and isn't afraid to show the dark side of every person. It makes the movie confronting and effective to watch.

While watching this movie it makes a realize that it's a movie that only could had been made by a Vietnam veteran. The small little details such as of the atmosphere and characterize behavior are too detailed and uncompromising to have been written by someone who hasn't been even close to Vietnam. "Platoon" is a sort of autobiography movie by Oliver Stone, who put some his own Vietnam war experiences into this movie. The movie, like basically every Oliver Stone movie, handles controversial subjects and is very straightforward, without really picking any sides.

The movie features only 2 or 4 real visual confronting sequences. The movie doesn't need anymore than that to be powerful, or to try and make its point. It lets the psychological elements take of that instead. It makes "Platoon" a movie that doesn't try to impress but nevertheless leaves a powerful and lasting impression through its way of film-making. It also provides the movie with some really powerful sequences, with of course the death of Sgt. Elias Grodin as the most classic and memorable one. I still regard it as the greatest death sequence out of movie history, even though it's completely over-the-top.

The movie is mostly carried by the characters that are in it. None of them are really formulaic or predictable and they are being played by some great actors. This movie features some great casting, with lots of actors that later became huge stars, such as Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley and of course Johnny Depp. Charlie Sheen does a good job at playing the character, trough whose eyes the entire story gets told. But it are Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe who really form the movie. In a non-formulaic way they represent good and evil.

"Platoon" is luckily not only just a psychological powerful movie with great characters but also visually a great movie to watch. The battle sequences are effective and impressive to watch and really give you a sense of how it must have been like over there, as does the entire movie by the way. The cinematography by Robert Richardson is wonderful and the Academy Award winning directing by Oliver Stone is just great.

"Platoon" is of course also the movie that got Adagio for Strings eternal fame. The piece of classical music it features prominently the movie its most important sequences. It works powerful and effective, no matter how often it gets overused in the movie.

War is hell and this movie really shows that.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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