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Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

tomatometer

90

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 39
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 4

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.

75

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

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.

audience

76

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 58,188

My Rating

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.

R,

Drama

Oliver Stone

Apr 28, 1998

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (39) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (4) | DVD (18)

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

June 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is an impassioned movie, made with conviction and evangelical verve. It's also hysterical and overbearing and alienating.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comment (1)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stone has created a film whose overblown parts add up to far less than the epic whole he had in mind.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

August 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
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.

July 4, 2012 Full Review Source: BrianOrndorf.com
BrianOrndorf.com

Unflinching story of Vietnam vet turned activist.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Cruise's impassioned performance as Kovic is an impressive accomplishment.

December 21, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Not the sort of movie you actually enjoy, but its thought-provoking subject matter and haunting images are not easily forgotten.

December 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

A great performance by Cruise

September 5, 2008
Moviehole

Though departing from the source material, Ron Kovic's stirring chronicle of his Vietnam experience, this film is a good companion piece to Oliver Stone's Oscar-winner Platoon, showcasing star Tom Cruise in one of his most dramatic performances.

February 13, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Stone does populist anti-war with a passion.

March 13, 2006
ColeSmithey.com

Made when Oliver Stone still had cred and Cruise wasn't a laughing stock. A fine movie.

October 28, 2005 | Comments (3)
Film Threat

I'll give Stone credit for capturing the craziness of Kovic's life, but he fails to give a human face to his free fall.

October 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

This is a sad case of a film with high and noble intentions that features great dramatic performances, but it ends up being a superficial epic, diluted, limited, and strangely unmoving.

March 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Typical jingoistic Stone bullroar, but professional.

March 7, 2003 | Comment (1)
Film Freak Central

A forceful and admirably heartfelt performance by Tom Cruise galvanizes this picture, which should be more powerful than it is considering the darkness and fullness of the emotions at its center.

January 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

Signaled Oliver Stone's transition from iconic commentator to tremulous anarchist.

October 17, 2002 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide | Comment (1)
Apollo Guide

Sledgehammer Stone deals from a grotesquely stacked deck as usual

August 26, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Hey...Cruise can act!

July 26, 2002
Las Vegas Mercury

Tom Cruise proves he's more than a chiseled face in Stone's anti-war epic.

July 26, 2002
eFilmCritic.com

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.
July 7, 2012
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

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.
June 10, 2012
cosmo313
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
February 12, 2012
TheGame90
Martin Sahlin

Super Reviewer

Cruise pulls out all the stops in his visceral portrayal of a guy who goes from trusting and unthinking patriot to wounded and wondering casualty of the Vietnam War. Certainly one of the very best of this genre, it's core point simply a question : when has blind obedience ever been an American ideal?
May 29, 2011
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

    1. Donna: I got a face like a rotting pumpkin.
    – Submitted by Jesse K (15 months ago)
    1. Ron Kovic: F*** You, Willie.
    – Submitted by Alex K (21 months ago)
    1. Ron Kovic: Well, I love America.
    – Submitted by Alex K (21 months ago)
    1. Ron Kovic: People say that if you don't love America, then get the hell out.
    – Submitted by Alex K (21 months ago)
    1. Ron Kovic: Penis! Penis!
    2. Mrs. Kovic: Don't say penis in this house!
    3. Ron Kovic: PENIS!
    – Submitted by Zach W (2 years ago)
    1. Ron Kovic: It's my leg! I want my leg, you understand? Can't you understand that? All's I'm sayin' is that I want to be treated like a human being! I fought for my country! I am a Vietnam veteran! I fought for my country!
    – Submitted by Alejandro O (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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