For today’s throwback, I will be reviewing a film directed by Rob Reiner. Haven’t heard of him? Well, he just directed some small little movies like ‘Stand by Me (1986)’, ‘The Princess Bride (1987)’, ‘When Harry Met Sally... (1989)', and ‘Misery (1990) ’. He just so happens to be one of the most underrated directors still around, along with Robert Zemeckis, Danny Boyle, and many others. The screenwriter may just be the superstar of his field in Hollywood: Aaron Sorkin. And what a debut; he would go on to write ‘The Social Network (2010)’, ‘Moneyball (2011)’, and ‘Steve Jobs (2015)’, not to mention the hit T.V. show ‘The West Wing (1999-2006)’. And with a cast like this- a cast in their prime I might add - this might just be a perfect layered cake of a movie.
Tom Cruise is one of the most interesting actors in Hollywood today. Personal beliefs aside, no one delivers a performance quite like Tom Cruise. He is known for going all in on his high-octane action movies, but here he gets the chance to show what he can do with some quick and heavy dialogue… and he does not disappoint. He manages to strike a balance between the smart-ass back-talk you would hear from Robert Downey Jr. today and a hidden lack of confidence coming from the posthumous shadow of his father. Demi Moore, at the time had just come out with ‘Ghost (1990)’, and she was starting to break out of her “brat pack” phase. This was the perfect film to do that; she stands toe-to-toe with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson with her strong and stoical performance. I would also like to give a big shout-out to Kevin Pollak, a subtle guide through the film who is there whenever he needs to be to be the audience’s point-of-view in the movie. Jack Nicholson, though he is in a small portion of the movie, sure makes an impact as he starts to proceed into the more venerable stage in his career (or, as I like to call it, the “post-Batman” phase).
Now, I don’t know what the top ten dialogue-driven films are off of the top of my head. But I could not imagine a list in that vein that did not include this movie. Sorkin’s writing has never been tighter; there is never a spare moment or a lull in the “action”. Nothing extremely exciting happens, every twist and turn (and there are plenty of each) is just as relevant and eloquent when delivered by a piece of dialogue than a big heart-pounding scene in an epic action movie. And in turn, the cast is able to deliver such dialogue with ease. It was also nice to see actors pop-up like Kiefer Sutherland, J. T. Walsh, and Cuba Gooding Jr., just as a nice look back on careers in the nineties.
To sum the review up, this is one of the most riveting courtroom dramas, right up there with ‘12 Angry Men (1957)’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)’. It has a lights-out cast, an expertly tight script, and a great final scene to wrap it all up. I am going to give the movie a ‘10 out of 10’. What are your thoughts on ‘A Few Good Men (1992)’? Have you seen it? If not, did this review persuade you? Let us know in the comments below!