John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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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."
Inferior time loop movie that unfolds at a tortuous pace. Lead actress Courtney Hope as a physicist extraordinaire comes off as an angst-ridden harpy battling her inner demons along with just about everyone in her personal life. She seems incapable of having a civil conversation and proves her toughness, notwithstanding her gender, with profanity laden tirades though this, of course, serves as a façade for her sensitive inner self. The supporting cast is apparently here to serve as whipping boys and girls throughout this irritating yawn. The storyline is obtuse and tedious and anyone interested in time travel would be better served staring at a clock and watching one's life tick away.