PLATOON: 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION

 

THE PLOT THUS FAR

A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

The Vietnam War has been a staple of American cinema for the last twenty seven years. It’s been said that all war movies end up glamorizing combat, but “Platoon” was the first flick from someone who had actually been there. Oliver Stone had been around Hollywood for almost a decade by 1986. He was considered to be one of the great screenwriters at the time having turned out top notch scripts for “Midnight Express” and “Scarface”. So how was the first major studio flick about the Vietnam War from a veteran’s perspective?

“Platoon” opens on Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) as he is being shipped into Vietnam. Within hours of arriving, Private Taylor is told that he’s supposed to be there. He’s a middle class college kid who enlisted because he felt that he was doing his patriotic duty. Private Taylor is brought into combat through a series of incidents where the enemy is never clearly seen. They pass through the jungle unseen and Private Taylor is shook to his core because he feels as though he can’t adequately fight them.

Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) is Private Taylor’s commanding officer. This man is so scarred and so battered by the war that his men believe that he can’t be killed. Then, there’s the drug addicted Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) who is more concerned with getting the platoon high than killing Vietcong. The platoon passes from village to village looking for anyone that might be harboring Vietcong forces or NVA sympathizers. This leads to harrowing events that punctuate the flick through its second and third acts.The platoon fights with Vietnamese villagers who don’t want to cooperate. Both sides aren’t sure who can be trusted and it leads to conflict. And, we come to understand the frustration of Barnes, as he is doing his best to serve his country and get the hell out of Vietnam. This all leads to one of the most memorable scenes of the film. But, then again so much of this film’s shock value hangs on the sudden murders of several people.

The audience sees Americans killing Vietnamese villagers. The audience sees Americans killing Vietnamese allies. The audience finally sees Americans killing Americans. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion that takes us through the hell that was the Vietnam War. I know that sounds like a generic stock answer for a genre of film that has been to death. But, in the case of “Platoon” it could never be truer.

The Blu-Ray comes with all of the commentaries and featurettes ported over from the Special Edition DVD. However, you get a period flashback featurette that seems to be new. The transfer is a new HD mix that makes every inch of the frame pop, while the DTS-HD track sings with every gun shot. You also get a DVD copy as a mobile backup. In the end, I’d recommend it for a purchase to all serious film fans. 

RELEASE DATE: 05/24/2011

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