Born on the Fourth of July (1989)



Critic Consensus: Led by an unforgettable performance from Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July finds director Oliver Stone tackling thought-provoking subject matter with ambitious élan.

Movie Info

The second of three films by co-writer/director Oliver Stone to explore the effects of the Vietnam War (Platoon and Heaven and Earth are the others), Born On The Fourth Of July tells the true story of Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise), a patriotic, All-American small town athlete who shocks his family by enlisting with the Marines to fight in the Vietnam War. Once he is overseas, however, Kovic's gung-ho enthusiasm turns to horror and confusion when he accidentally kills one of his own men in a firefight. … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Oliver Stone , Ron Kovic , Dave Freeman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 28, 1998
Universal Pictures


as Ron Kovic

as Mrs. Kovic

as Charlie

as Young Ron

as Young Ron

as Tommy Kovic

as Billy Vorsovich

as Young Tommy

as Jimmy Kovic

as Young Jimmy

as Susanne Kovic

as Young Susanne

as Patty Kovic

as Young Patty

as Recruiting Sergeant

as Baby Patty

as Jackie Kovic

as Marvin

as Young Donna

as Young Timmy

as Young Steve

as Villa Vet

as Young Joey

as Tommy Finnelli

as Young Tommy

as Young Billy

as Danny Fantozzi

as Young Danny

as Ballplayer

as Mel Allen

as Legion Commander

as Fat Lady at Parade

as Young Donna's Father

as News Reporter

as Infantry Colonel

as Massapequa Mom

as Young Donna's Friend

as Truck Driver

as Marine Major

as Lieutenant

as Martinez

as Chaplain

as Himself

as Nurse Washington

as Frankie

as Strike Organizer

as Donna's Boy Friend

as Folksinger

as Loudspeaker

as Young Radical

as Student Organizer

as Maria Elena

as Bartender

as Cab Driver

as Mr. Wilson

as Mrs. Wilson

as Jamie Wilson

as Cab Driver

as Undercover Vet

as Secret Service Agent

as TV Anchor

as Chief Cop

as Miami Hippie

as Fat Republican

as Democratic Delegate

as Recruiting Sgt. Bowe...

as Neighbor

as Student Organizer

as Neighbor

as Charlie's Whore [Vil...

as Veteran at Parade (u...

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Platoon - Vietnam

as Corpsman - Vietnam

as Corpsman - Vietnam

as Corpsman - Vietnam

as Corpsman - Vietnam

as Corpsman - Vietnam

as Aide #2 - VA Hospita...

as Aide #3 - VA Hospita...

as Aide #4 - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Patient - VA Hospita...

as Doctor #1 - VA Hospi...

as Optimistic Doctor - ...

as Man #2 - Arthur's Ba...

as Friend #1 - Arthur's...

as Friend #2 - Arthur's...

as Friend #3 - Arthur's...

as Vet - Villa Dulce

as Villa Vet

as Villa Vet

as Paraplegic

as Paraplegic

as Paraplegic

as Jane the Reporter

as Official

as Passerby

as Fat Republican
Show More Cast

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Born on the Fourth of July

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (8)

Tom Cruise, who takes Kovic from clean-cut eager teen to impassioned long-haired activist, is stunning.

Full Review… | June 6, 2008
Top Critic

A compelling, elegiac film, particularly encouraging after the simplified morality of Platoon.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Born on the Fourth of July is...the most ambitious nondocumentary film yet made about the entire Vietnam experience.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Stone has found in Cruise the ideal actor to anchor the movie with simplicity and strength.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Not counting his iconic themes for such blockbusters as Star Wars and Jaws, this might feature John Williams' best music score to date.

Full Review… | August 8, 2012
Creative Loafing

An exceptional feature on every level of execution, also displaying a rare sensitivity to Stone that he would spend the rest of his career trying to bury in violence and experimentation.

Full Review… | July 4, 2012

Audience Reviews for Born on the Fourth of July


Born on the Fourth of July is a solid, well acted and brilliantly directed Anti war film. Based on the true story of Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic, who due to a wound, became paralyzed. Through years of struggle, Kovic finally was able to get his life back on track and become an anti war activist along the way. Tom Cruise gives a great performance as Kovic. This is a stunning film that is an eye opening viewing, and Oliver Stone did a great job here. This is one of his finest films, and this is a great departure from his previous Vietnam War film, Platoon, which is hands down Stone's greatest work. However with this film, he crafts a masterful film yet again, and captures a totally different side of the Vietnam War struggle, in part the struggle that many Vietnam War veterans had to endure when coming home from the war. This is a great film with a powerful story, and you see it through Ron Kovic's eyes as he became disillusioned afterwards, and how he dealt with it, and ultimately redeemed himself by becoming a voice for the anti war movement. The performances are great and the story is enthralling and this is a must see for even war film fans. This is a superb film that is among Stone's strongest directorial efforts. Tom Cruise is terrific in the part, and this is actually one of many of his best performances. This is a superb film that is powerful and thought provoking. With a great cast and a captivating story, Born on the Fourth of July is a must see for film fans.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer


This is the second film in Oliver Stone's trilogy about the Vietnam War, and for this one, he decided to adapt (along with Ron Kovic), Kovic's autobiography about his life, and how he went from proud and patriotic all-American to crippled war veteran who became a fervent anti-war protestor. And you know what? This film really is terrific. Yes, it has IMPORTANT stamped all over it, and sure, it is emotionally manipulative and takes a very "damned if you do, damned if you don't" stance towards the experiences of veterans, but we need stuff like this, and it is a very welcome voice in the debate about the experiences of Vietnam veterans and how one's whole life can be shattered and changed once they experience unimaginable horrors and return home to a country that changed so drastically in just a short amount of time.

This is all very fascinating stuff, and, despite the polemic nature of things, it is well done, and even though a bias is present, all sides do get some sort of representation, so the film isn't quite on the same level as something by Michael Moore for example.

Kovic was and is a very proud American, and yes, the film proves you can still be very patriotic even if you're anti-war. It's really a good blend of character study and philosophy, and that wasn't something I was expecting. It's also not nearly as heavy handed as I was expecting, though it is very heavy with the sentimentality, especially where John Williams's (solid) score and the cinematography (everything is shot in filters of either red, white, or blue depending on the emotional level or context of things) are concerned.

The cast that Stone rounded up is quite notable too. There's tons of recognizable names present, even if many of them have no more than just a few moments or even a couple of lines of dialogue. The big roles are cast wonderfully though, featuring the likes of Kyra Sedgwick, Willem Dafoe, Raymond J. Barry, and Tom Cruise in the lead as Kovic. This was the first time Cruise tried for something dramatic, serious, and very challenging. Not only did he pull it off, but this is still one of his all time best performances. You know, the kind which prove he really can act.

There's lots of great moments throughout, and they all are at different emotional levels. Two that really stick out for me however, are scenes that are dramatic (and are supposed to be), but still managed to unintentionally be hilarious as well. Those two scenes are the argument/breakdown where Ron screams profanities and the word penis loudly at his mother while drunk, and the wheelchair fight between Cruise and Dafoe. I felt kinda bad laughing, but I really just couldn't help it.

No matter your opinions on Cruise, Stone, or the subject matter, you really should give this one a watch. It is designed to provoke all sorts of reactions, and though it is unapologetic in its presentation, it is a worthy and remarkable film.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


This is some fine directing right here from Mr. Political Subject himself. This movie uses one of the oldest tricks in the book for dramatic effect....Slowmotion....and it does it really well. Tom does possibly his best role here? And it's a very interesting story. Willem Dafoe makes a brief but oscar worthy apperence. There are a lot of very beautiful shoots in this movie. Escpecially that first shoot after we cut to the war. That is just iconic. This movies story draws many similarities to The Deer Hunter but it's still very diffrent and uniqe. A really good movie and a great work by Tom Cruise

Martin Sahlin

Super Reviewer

Born on the Fourth of July Quotes

– Submitted by Jesse K (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Alex K (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Alex K (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Alex K (2 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Born on the Fourth of July on our Movie forum!