War drama based on the autobiographical book by Ron Kovic. Tom Cruise plays Kovic, a man brought up in the God-fearing All-American tradition, the perfect material to fight for the US cause in Vietnam. However, nothing could prepare the young Marine for the horrors of the frontline and he returns home paralysed from chest down. Embittered, Kovic goes into a self-destructive downward spiral, until he finds new direction by joining the anti-war movement.
The second film in Oliver Stone's Vietnam trilogy moves from the brutality of war in Platoon to its equally traumatic aftermath. Based on the memoir of combat veteran Ron Kovic, the film stars Tom Cruise
as Kovic, whose gunshot wound in Vietnam left him paralyzed from the chest down. He is deeply embittered by neglect in a veteran's hospital and by the shattering of his patriotic idealism because of the horror and futility of the Vietnam conflict. While painfully and awkwardly adjusting to his disability and a changing definition of masculinity, Kovic joins the burgeoning movement of antiwar protest, culminating in a climactic appearance at the 1976 Democratic national convention. A powerfully intimate portrait that unfolds on an epic scale, Born on the Fourth of July
is arguably Stone's best film (if you can forgive its often strident tone), and Cruise's Oscar-nominated role is uncompromising in its depiction of one man's personal anguish and political awakening. --Jeff Shannon