DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner
May Contain Spoilers!
In 1992, The American President (1995) and The West Wing, both also penned by Aaron Sorkin, were a few years off as was the film’s scribe’s fame. But A Few Good Men set the tone for his future work and is not his only collaboration with Rob Reiner, with the afore-mentioned American President setting paving the way for the TV hit, The West Wing (1999-2006). A Few Good Men follows the fictional trial of two U.S. Marines who accidentally kill a fellow Marine during a sanctioned but illegal troop to troop disciplinary procedure.
The troops insist that the bullied Marine was attacked under orders from the Colonel, Jack Nicholson who denied this, as smart-arse J.A.G. lawyer Tom Cruise and his uptight and by the book colleague, Demi Moore defend the two men. They are guilty, certainly of manslaughter but they believe that they were just following orders which went wrong and that they should not be convicted or murder or manslaughter.
The case is meticulously presented on to the screen, with great performances all round, including the scenery chewing of Nicholson, but who cares! This is a heavy weight script, brought to the big screen by an equally strong cast a crew, showing us that complex legal dramas are good enough for mainstream cinema and that Aaron Sorkin was well on his way to greater things. Still a classic in its genre and now, twenty years later, this should not be dismissed, even though it does smell strongly of the early 1990’s at times. But a good moral and legal thriller should be timeless a this tale of two soldiers blindly following orders and killing a man as a result, harks back to Nuremberg as much as anything.