Johnny Got His Gun (2008)


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Movie Info

Dalton Trumbo's haunting anti-war drama comes to the screen for the second time in this filmed version of the stage play starring Ben McKenzie. On the last day of World War I, American soldier Joe Bonham is hit by an artillery shell and instantly rendered a quadruple amputee. Later, as Joe regains consciousness in his hospital bed, he realizes to his horror that he has also lost his senses of sight, smell, sound, and speech. Though Joe's capacity for reasoning is in tack and his brain is still fully functional, it's locked in a broken shell of a body, leaving him hopelessly trapped in his own imagination. His only means of communicating with the outside world is to tap his head in Morse code, but do the doctors even realize what he's trying to say? Eventually, his desperate message gets through: Joe wants to be put on display as a living example of the devastating cost of war.


Critic Reviews for Johnny Got His Gun

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (9)

Unless viewers are aficionados of solo shows and want to see every one they can, this effort comes off as forced, far too self-aware and unfortunately dated.

Dec 4, 2008 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Staged plays just aren't that cinematic, and even under the capable direction of Rowan Joseph, Mr. McKenzie doesn't provide enough spark to offset the problem.

Dec 4, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

It's hard not to wish that the novel had instead been newly adapted into a real film by a director with the requisite daring and imagination.

Dec 4, 2008

Ably filmed by veteran stage producer-director Rowan Joseph, Bradley Rand Smith's theatrical script provides a bravura thespian workout for Ben McKenzie.

Dec 4, 2008
Top Critic

Trumbo's aim was a kind of proletarian poetry, but McKenzie's broad emoting has the deadly earnestness of a school play.

Nov 14, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Trumbo's dialogue is as subtle as a bayonet charge and as outdated, while McKenzie, alternately shouty and moany, is not the actor to pull it off.

Oct 24, 2008 | Rating: 1/4

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