Born On The Fourth Of July

"OK"

Born On The Fourth Of July Review


Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July is not an adaptation of the memoir by Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, though that's what the credits indicate. It's an indulgent style showcase for Stone, who, with his longtime cinematographer Robert Richardson, employs every act of film trickery imaginable that doesn't involve CGI effects.

Tom Cruise, in a role that was a brave departure for him in 1989, plays Kovic in his adult years. Kovic grows up as a child of the American dream in 1950s Long Island. He's a God-fearing, baseball-hitting, patriotic lad who lives in an environment full of parades and malt shops. As a high school senior, young Ron doesn't think twice about signing up for the Marines, believing that he's doing the right thing for his country.

He does two tours of duty in Vietnam, a time that changes everything. He mistakenly guns down a Vietnamese family; then, minutes later, he accidentally kills a fellow soldier, so Kovic's mental torment is already hefty when he gets shot in battle, leaving him paralyzed.

After a lengthy stay at an understaffed and filthy VA hospital, Kovic returns home to find the environment has changed. Where's the red scare everyone was talking about? What happened to the American dream that he pursued? "I don't feel like myself anymore," he tells a childhood friend. Kovic starts drinking, rejects God and his family, and wastes time whoring and boozing with other vets in Mexico, where he officially hits rock bottom before making amends with his recent past.

Kovic's story should be riveting on its own -- a young man who realizes a little too late that his whole life has been a sham. Stone, who co-wrote the movie with Kovic, is not content to let Kovic's life speak for itself. Born on the Fourth of July is a mish-mash of extreme close-ups, slow motion photography, and heavy-handed imagery and sound effects. The result: Kovic's story gets muffled in all of the gee-whiz technique, zapping any emotion and personal touch from the material. It's tough to distinguish the subject from Stone's attempt to wow us with bleached out shots and sound symbolism. John Williams' saccharine score serves only to turn Kovic into more of a stylistic conduit.

What's so frustrating is that there are opportunities to show Kovic's metamorphosis. One is when he takes a trip to visit an old flame (Kyra Sedgwick), now an anti-war protester. The other is the trip to Mexico. Both subplots are important because they open Kovic's eyes to the failures in his life, but the most effecting parts of those scenes don't involve any internal reflection. In Syracuse, it's a student protest that goes violently awry; in Mexico, it's Cruise and Willem Dafoe spitting at each other in the middle of a desert.

I'll give Stone credit for capturing the craziness of Kovic's life, but he fails to give a human face to his free fall. Stone, who (incredibly) won a Best Director Oscar, gives a cinematic face to it. You never feel that Kovic is the subject of his own movie. He's indeed an outsider, but in the worst way.

Aka Born on the 4th of July.



Born On The Fourth Of July

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 145 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th January 1990

Box Office Worldwide: $161M

Budget: $14M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Ixtlan

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 35 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: A. Kitman Ho,

Starring: as Ron Kovic, as Mr. Kovic, as Mrs. Kovic, as Jenny, as Donna, as Recruiting Gunnery Sgt. Hayes, as Tommy Finnelli, as Billy Vorsovich, as Arzt, Vivica A. Fox as Hooker, as Jamie Wilson, as Steve Boyer, as Timmy, as Charlie, as Tommy Kovic

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Advertisement
Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.