Born on the Fourth of July is a truly epic tale of the devastating effects that the Vietnam War has on a young man. This is the tour-de-force performance that most people will point to in order to make it clear that Tom Cruise is more than just a dumb action star. The way that he portrays the highs and lows of this poor man's life is shockingly realistic. I also think the makeup and hair team did a stellar job at aging him appropriately, without making it obvious I was looking at a 26-year-old with a wig on. The story is a very tough one to watch and every time my mind would wander back to that young boy from the beginning, while he was in a horrible hospital being treated for war wounds or he felt completely unlovable, I started to tear up. The journey that the character takes is a harsh one to watch because you slowly see the war, and the physical/emotional wounds he acquired from it, gradually take away every ounce of his former self. It starts by taking away his physical abilities, then it takes away his family and friends, eventually it takes away any hope he had for love, and finally his entire belief system is torn down. Since it's based on the biography of a real man, you can feel the authentic emotion in that journey. It's not a perfect film, there are certain beats that are skipped over too quickly, and there are some that are dragged out longer than necessary or repeated more than necessary. While I would find it difficult to ever watch Born on the Fourth of July again, I applaud the quality of the film-making and the astounding performance from Tom Cruise.