Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring:||Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Pollak|
This film, named after the familiar Marine recruiting slogan, deals with the question of “Code Reds,” or discipline of a lagging member by other enlisted personnel within the unit.
On Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba (a base the U.S. has held since before the Castro regime and has never relinquished), a Marine is assaulted by two other members of his unit and subsequently dies. The two are charged with murder, but some in the Judge Advocate General’s office believe that the assault may have been a Code Red ordered (illegally) by an officer. The investigation of that question, and the Court Martial of the two accused men, takes up the balance of the film. Though long-running and with a fairly straightforward plot, it holds the viewer’s attention throughout. Perhaps the success of this film triggered the TV series “JAG”.
There is no sexual activity, and no violence other than the initial assault and a later off-screen suicide. The R rating is for language. There are probably 25 to 50 uses of the f-word plus various curses and blasphemies. Lt. Kaffe (Tom Cruise) uses crude sexual language on his co-defense counsel Lt. Cmdr. Galloway (Demi Moore) when he first meets her, apparently in an attempt to put her at a disadvantage. But he’s outdone by Col. Jessep (Jack Nicholson), the Marine commander at Guantanamo, who uses even harsher language on both Galloway and Kaffe, apparently for the same purpose. Marine Lt. Kendrick (Kiefer Sutherland) is a Bible-thumper who’s apparently in on the Code Red and is, along with Col. Jessep, one of the film’s intended “bad guys.”
Since I’m not a veteran, I won’t offer a hard opinion where I don’t know what I’m talking about. I understand that Code Reds (or whatever other name they might be called) are against official policy in all branches of the Service; and this film and “Full Metal Jacket” both portray them negatively. I’d like to read some comments from veterans on whether this kind of internal discipline still occurs; whether it’s becoming less frequent; and whether a limited use of this practice ever helps, rather than hurts, combat readiness.