Bad Boys for Life
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Sadly Taps is still relevant as it warns against too much nationalism.
Harold Becker's war drama Taps (1981) is a striking look into the mind of the military youth. Taps takes the premise of a military academy going under due to real estate industries buying up the property. Taps is interesting as you relate and sympathize with the military's side until you realize it's both bad for the millionaires to buy up a military school as well as the American cadets to seize control of the facility in order to bargain for its survival. Becker's direction is gripping as he keeps you focused on the ethical relationship between the 3 boys as they each represent a different socio-ideological personality type. Becker sets up Taps like it's Lord of the Flies on a military academy.
126 minutes can be riveting with impressive performances from 3 young leading men and a pleasant showing from an old acting legend. Taps does start a little slow, but the character interactions feel real and genuine from all the kids that you are captivated by Taps' drama. Maurice Jarre's score is engaging, if not the most memorable part of Taps.
That would be the acting. George C. Scott bears tremendous weight on Taps' plot as his gravitas as an American general is undeniable. Reaching back to his Patton glory days, Scott finds a heart and passion for his general in Taps that makes him sound profound and cheerful alike. George C. Scott is captivating as a gung ho warmonger, who is nostalgic for his battles, but realistic in his fears of combat. His ideologies are so convincing because it is Scott delivering with style and heart.
Timothy Hutton is impressive as a new major obsessed with Scott's general and his dangerous ideals. Hutton represents the military soldier that not only does what he is told, but feels he understands duty more than anyone else. Hutton plays his naive major with total conviction that what he is doing is right solely because he believes the general would have wanted it that way.
Tom Cruise is hilarious and scary as an intimidating red beret troop, who is far too eager for a battle between cadets and soldiers. Cruise's muscular physique and wild energy is infectious and entertaining. He gives a shocking performance here in Taps early in his career. It's obvious that Cruise would be a star and character actor as he completely commits to his trigger happy captain. Tom Cruise is immediately memorable in Taps.
On the other hand, Sean Penn was destined to be a fascinating method actor. His devastated and hurt look at Hutton as he slowly realizes that his friend has lost his mind down a strange and violent path is unforgettable. Much like in The Thin Red Line, Penn's character feels like a surrogate for the audience as they know what has occurred is atrocious for these military men. Penn bears witness to atrocity and human nature with tear-riddled eyes and an open heart for his cadet captain.
Overall, Taps is interesting drama of the highest caliber, but it takes awhile to get to know you.
A tense and engaging story filmed vigorously by Harold Becker and with a talented young cast signaling what they could do in the future.
A strange film that feels generic with a wtf story, I was really struggling trying to keep up and care about the characters but I couldn't. Still, it's a decent watch. Nothing special
In spite of elite military prep-school seniors being stupid enough to take up arms to prevent their precious academy from being closed and sold, this film is otherwise an excellent drama about youthful, fanatical idealism gone horribly wrong.
While We saw this movie as children, it has maintained our affection over the years. So many movies that we remember fondly have degraded with adulthood. This is not one of those movies, this film has maintained its integrity, and unique plot. A coup brought on by heavily armed children powered by an unwillingness to accept change.
Entertaining movie about a military academy that the cadets decide to overthrow after it becomes learned its going to be bulldozed and changed into condos. It gets a bit silly in some parts. But most of it is exciting. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Penn and Hutton. They carry the movie.
A classic. One of my all time favorite movies. Some of the situations and themes seem foreign today, but for those who remember the 80s it's easy to recall.
I recently saw Taps (1981) after a great many years. The movie is notable as a launching pad for Sean Penn and Tom Cruise, and a commendable follow up vehicle for Timothy Hutton coming off his Academy Award winning supporting performance in Ordinary People (1980). Each acquits himself brilliantly, though Penn and Cruise evidence what would later seem a strange reversal of role types. Penn is the levelheaded, reflective, ambivalent and brooding cadet who nevertheless falls back on his guiding principle: "My friend, right or wrong!" ("I might be a little ragged around the edges, but I don't walk out on a friend."), while Cruise is the gung-ho, borderline psychopathic militarist whom one senses is less concerned with the cause than he is with a chance to prematurely taste the glory of battle. Hutton as the incoming cadet major of the military academy likewise comes off as conflicted. He is the scion of a military family and seemingly embraces all things military, its traditions, pomp and, most of all, honor, as he sees it as his sacred duty despite his apparent disdain on a personal basis for his master sergeant father currently serving in the U.S. Army. Hutton's character worships (not too far from literally) the academy's venerable commandant, a retired army general whose checkered career is later hinted at by Hutton's character's father, much to his son's utter contempt.
What impresses me most about the film is its script's treatment, its evenhandedness in shaping the social issues of the times, a rare such example from a Hollywood largely wedded to leftist ideology. It characterizes both the left and the right negatively without becoming overly preachy on either score. To many, military academies like Bunker Hill seem anachronistic, but to most of its students steeped in its traditions it represents all that is virtuous of an America in dramatic post-Vietnam War societal transition. Youths from the town are essentially characterized as loudmouthed punks and provocateurs whose actions unwittingly prompt the rebellion and tragedy in the making in the academy that is shortly to befall it; a tragedy that causes Hutton's character to finally embrace reality all too late with a disillusionment so poignant that it becomes palpable. "Honor doesn't count for **** when you're looking at a dead little boy.... All you think about is what a neat little kid he was." A sense of sadness pervades this dark but intriguing movie and rises above it to life in general. Nothing lasts.
George C. Scott, as the commandant, and Ronny Cox as the conflicted National Guard commander who so sympathizes with the cadets he must shortly and reluctantly move against, contribute stellar performances amongst the adult supporting cast. The movie is based on Father Sky, a novel by screenwriter Devery Freeman who apparently was not asked to write the script, perhaps because of major changes made. I'd recommend this film wholeheartedly as it stands up admirably against the test of time and can serve as an allegory for many a life situation as the late Roger Ebert suggested in his favorable review written at a time when Penn and Cruise were largely unknown to movie audiences.
In conclusion, one is reminded of Robert E. Lee's remarks in the aftermath of "Pickett's Charge": "It's all such a waste. Too, too sad."
Good overall movie and great cast, but, I wish the story-line pursued his request to save the school more.
I like when a movie is different. This movie is, as I don't remember other movies with a similar theme. It shows young soldiers who already understand what honor is and are ready to withstand their principles. Being a soldier is not easy, as you have to hide your emotions and stay strong no matter what. This movie does show young soldier's lives pretty good.
*** Spoilers - don't read if you want to rewatch: The movie does have plotholes, or strange decisions (why they never asked for media attention or didn't ask more actively to complete their demands). Unfortunately, because of this most people outside probably thought they are just crazy terrorists, because the media didn't show their motives really and showed just one side of the story. Or for example why did the general at the beginning never said that it was the kid who took his pistol and shot?***
This is basically the first Tom Cruise' movie (Endless Love had only 20 seconds of him) and I must say, I was surprised how good his acting in this movie already is. His character is different and I really liked him. Great job Tom!
On overall, the movie is good and it is worth watching. Even rewatching again if you have a company.