Johnny Got His Gun Reviews
After a soldier fighting in WW1 named Joe Bonham is rendered limbless, blind, deaf, and mute due to being injured by an artillery shell attack, he ends up in a hospital where he periodically hallucinates and retreats into his memories as he learns to handle living in such a despairing way.
Part of the reason why this movie works so well is that Joe is completely powerless to the outside forces. If a doctor decides to kill him, he won't be able to do anything about it. If someone tries operating on him, he won't be able to stop them. This sense of hopelessness works very well, and the condition that he is in sort of amplifies this even more. The creative and promising plotline of the film makes a cause and effect reaction which helps the film work in other ways.
His flashbacks worked very well at helping me to develop a strong connection with him and other characters he was around. My favorite character in the film, by far, was his father. He did love his son like any other father would, but there were some scenes which made him look like a very nice man. He said how he really loved his fishing pole at a point in the movie. However, after Joe loses it while camping with him, he chooses not to get mad at him as that was their last trip together. This scene had a huge impact on me. Other scenes involve a tender and charming love scene with him and his girlfriend the day before he is shipped off to war. That scene echoes throughout the entire movie, and it often comes to mind when he faces times of despair. Another character that I liked a lot was Jesus Christ, who was in a few of his flashbacks. He doesn't have much advice to give to Joe as in real life, there isn't much that he can do.
The acting is pretty good. I thought that Timothy Bottoms (Joe Bonham) did a pretty good job as the lead role. His performance was pretty convincing. I've seen a lot of people say that he did a very bad job, and when I hear people say that, they often bring up his performance in the scene where the doctors are cutting his arms and legs off. I will admit that his performance in that scene wasn't that convincing. Looking back, however, that was only 1 scene out of the movie that I had an issue with. I feel like many people are overlooking that fact. If you think that his acting was bad all around, that's fine. However, if this scene is your only reference point, I will suggest re-thinking your opinion.
While Bottoms was good, I feel like a couple other actors were just as good, if not, better than him. Jason Robards as Joe's father gave an overall strong performance. Even though he wasn't in all that many of the scenes, he was pretty effective when he was in the movie. Also, Donald Sutherland as Jesus Christ had a nice charm to him that worked very well. His performance is charismatic. Many of the other actors did pretty nice jobs as well. It's important to note that I don't think that anyone's performance in this film was incredible. I thought that the best performances in this movie were pretty good. However, I also can't say that they're as bad as some people are making them out to be. The actors were pretty decent all around.
Another criticism I've seen people bring up about this movie is that it's music is really bad. They were saying that the happy music beat you over the head, and that it was trying to shove happy emotions down your throat. I honestly don't see why people are having an issue with this. It's perfectly normal for a movie to play happy music during a happy scene. You wouldn't expect it to play sad music. The music choice was just fine in my opinion. Also, like the criticism some people have on its acting, I have only seen 1 scene as a reference point by the people who agree with this criticism (I won't state which scene as it is a bit of a spoiler). While I don't agree with this criticism, my message to the people who disliked its music is: Did you dislike its music choice all around or in just one scene? If it was all around, that's fine. If it was just one scene, I would suggest toning down your hatred.
In conclusion, this was an amazing movie which was terrifying and engaging. It worked very well at terrifying me, and the flashbacks and hallucinations were all very good. Its ending is really exceptional as well, and it is a perfect way to end the film. I'm not going to forget its ending anytime soon, and it will probably linger with me for years to come. The acting was also pretty good. I'm glad that I checked this film out. It did a great job at engaging me, and it's always refreshing to see a film which displays the horrors of war. Especially in creative ways, which is what this film did.
Empathy is not the word for what I felt for the main characters situation, there are times where I hoped he would die, because he was living so much suffering.
This is not an action movie, or your common war movie, this is a deep, deep psychological horror about one mans journey into himself.
Joe, the main character, is a quadruple amputee who also loses his eyes, mouth, eyes and ears, he also loses a portion of his brain, the cerebrum.
The doctors think he is a vegetable, this so far from the truth, he is fully awake and his thoughts and the sensation of touch is all he is has.
Sympathize with him, think to yourself, what would I do? How long could I bear it.
There are times where you hope he gets what he wants more than anything in the world, death, even thought it goes completely against your human instincts and basic morality.
It's one of the very scarce times I wished someone would die.
The way it's shot is a stroke of genius by Dalton Trumbo too, reality is shot in black and white, Joe reliving his memories are shot completely in color, and the dream like state while under the influence of morphine are shot completely in saturated colors.
Watch this film and prepare for everything you thought about war to completely change and you will consider the right to death very seriously.
War - What is it good for?
The book is one of my favorites of all time, and if I eventually remake it as a famous director, I would want to leave the ending unscathed.
Something of a meditative piece in certain places, the film has a tendency to take on a certain quietness and subtlety to its storytelling, and such a move would be more effective if it was more realized, yet as things stand, Dalton Trumbo's direction is neither thoughtful enough nor slick-paced enough for you to take the film's style for what it is, resulting in atmospheric dry spells, some of which are truly dulling. Trumbo dulls things down more than he probably should, and such an issue would perhaps not be so recurring if Trumbo had more material to meditate upon, rather than a script that he himself wrote whose excessiveness not only bloats meandering filler to the point of repetition, but also bloat material to the point of convoluting the narrative by juggling too many plot elements to feel consistent, or even focused in its progression. Dealing with the Joe Bonham characters' learning to make due with his new and horrible life, as well as with Bonham's backstory, surrealistic dreams and, just for good measure, confrontation with Christ himself (Donald Sutherland makes for quite the groovy, oddly '60s-looking Jesus in a WWI timeline), the film takes on a lot of interesting ideas, but in execution, Trumbo fails to keep controlled enough in his cinematic translation of his own novel's worthy story for the narrative to not feel overblown, repetitious and maybe even aimless. Perhaps all of the excessive layering would be more organic if the story concept was grander enough to be especially worthy of such ambition, for although this drama is certainly meaty, with plenty of layers that surprisingly feel pretty fitting (Seriously though, what was up with the Jesus segments?), the more the film struggles to flesh out its narrative, the harder it is to deny the minimalism of this subject matter, although that might simply be because much of the meat goes undercut by subtlety issues. Subject matter this devastating has be treated very delicately, because if dramatic storytelling gets carried away, the final product would be too much of an emotional challenge for you to feel the thematic weight, yet the route that Trumbo goes as storytelling is arguably just as questionable, as Trumbo actually stresses the thematic depth a touch too much, with anything from heavy-handed symbolic set pieces to sentimentality, both of which have moments in which they're not simply distancing, but cheesy as reflects of overambition. Really, at the end of the day, "ambition" is the key term which best describes this passionate meditation upon worthy subject matter, and such an overwhelming desire to compel results in plenty of realized inspiration, but once realization slips, the ambition leaves storytelling to buckle under the weight of its overly meditative atmospherics, overblown storytelling and subtlety issues, and plummet shy of its potential. The film is kind of underwhelming, and when you see just where the story could have gone, there's no denying that potential is lost, nonetheless salvaged enough for the final product to endear, sometimes grip, while at least keeping consistent in aesthetic value.
In order to reinforce its themes of distinguishing harsh reality and dreamy reality, the film really relies on Jules Brenner's cinematography, which is a touch dated, but still truly outstanding in its dynamicity, alone, gracing the hospital segments with a black-and-white color palette and emphasis on shadow that handsomely captures the subject matter's bleakness, the background segments with tastefully controlled color, and the dream segments with a heavy glow to lighting that is truly beautiful in its richness. Of course, most every segment in the stylish film is handsome, because if nothing else stands out in this drama, it's the intricately diverse and aesthetically striking visual style, so much so that the drama is almost worthy seeing just for you to observe just how playful it is with its style, or rather, how playful Dalton Trumbo is with the film's visual style. As director, Trumbo actually works pretty well with plenty of stylistic attributes, playing with the diversity of Brenner's cinematography in order to reinforce thematic and tonal dynamicity, and even with Millie Moore's snappy editing (Yeah, there are quite a few jump-cuts, but whatever) in order to add some entertaining flare, which isn't to say that Trumbo's thoughtful atmospherics are frequently too thoughtful for their own good, because even all of this heavily thoughtful storytelling wears down momentum to a dull point more often than it should, when it's realized, it immerses and moves. What further compels in this character drama is Trumbo's work with his performers, every one of which endears with his or her own distinctive portrayal, but none more so than then-newcomer Timothy Bottoms, whose grounded charisma sells the innocence of the lead Joe Bonham character, whose heavy emotional layers sells both overwhelming fear and great hope, both of which are instrumental in the selling of this film. Bottoms' solid lead performance is, of course, highly prominent in this intimate study on a man's struggles, both relatable and horrible beyond one's greatest fears, and it, combined with sharp style, inspired direction and even some clever writing, sees some powerful highlights in storytelling which is generally stands to do greater justice to a story that is itself still of limited weight. At its core, this story is kind of minimalist, and that applies sensitivity to engagement value that is, of course, undercut by the missteps within Trumbo's interpretation of his own narrative concept, yet at the same time, the basic idea behind this drama, on its own, holds too much intrigue to easily shake, being not only an interesting character study with plenty of nifty, almost surrealistic dreamy aspects, but a worthy portrait on the horrors of warfare that, despite its subtlety issues, carries plenty of water, thematically and dramatically speaking. Were there more consistency to inspiration, rather than sheer ambition, to the telling of this worthy tale, the final product would have rewarded pretty thoroughly, through all of the minimalist aspects, yet as things stand, the conceptual value and interpretation's heart prove to be enough to brink the final product at least to the brink of rewarding.
In closing, bland atmospheric spells steady a sense of momentum which is shaken enough by questionable structural pacing and a rather convolutedly overblown narrative that, alongside subtlety issues, reflect too much of an ambition to flesh out a story too conceptually minimalist for the final product to truly stand out, but through excellent and richly dynamic cinematography, thoughtful direction and strong acting - particularly by Timothy Bottoms - behind a dramatically and thematically solid story concept, "Johnny Got His Gun" stands as a highly flawed, but borderline rewardingly endearing study on the dark depths of struggle to which a human can sink.
2.75/5 - Decent