Top critical review
on April 2, 2002
Oliver Stone's PLATOON is, quite frankly, only so-so. The acting was nothing to get excited over, save for Willem Dafoe (maybe). But then again, with characters that simplistic and underdeveloped, the actors didn't have much to work with. For example, Charlie Sheen's character Chris states that he dropped out of college and enlisted because he felt it unjust that only the poor were forced to fight. That's it. No development, no further reinforcement or motivation, no illustration of how he was raised in a moral family. The viewer is just to take his word. I'm sorry, but flat characters with underdeveloped motivations are a sign of a poor script. (Oh, for those of you used to Oliver Stone movies, let me hold your hand: poor script=poor movie).
Moreover, the contrast between the "good" sergeant and the "bad" sergeant are childishly simplistic--hell, Stone should have given Dafoe a white hat and Berenger a black one and spared us the hackneyed dialogue. The musical score is too melodramatic, and he depicts the Vietnamese as, for the most part, faceless killers. In short, Stone's PLATOON is insultingly manipulative in a cheap, didactic way. Wait a minute, that sounds like EVERY Stone movie.
Two redeeming qualities: the "do the village" scene is quite good, simply because its the only well-executed psychological examination of the soldiers and it more even-handedly portrays the Vietnamese; also, Stone does an excellent job portraying life as a grunt. Any vets out there, I thank you. Sure, there are a lot of explosions and intense fighting scenes, but that does not make a good movie, let alone a good war film. Come on people, use your minds critically. If you're looking for good war flicks, check out PATTON and APOCALYPSE NOW instead. They're intelligent, honest, and original.