This adaptation by Aaron Sorkin (he made up The West Wing) of his own stage play is a superb piece of trial by movies. When a young, somewhat out of place marine private is killed, apparently murdered by two of his comrades, the JAG corps send Lt-Cmdr Galloway (an, as always, somewhat wooden, Demi Moore), Lt. Caffey (Tom Cruise, earning his 1st Oscar nomination in the process) and Lt. Weinberg (the always watchable Kevin Pollak) to investigate. Along the way they discover conspiracy, cover up, and a sociopathic general (yes, that's Jack).
Nicholson's hardly in it, but he lights up the screen when he's there, he's so good it's scary. Cruise is more than watchable in his role of the showy lawyer maturing faster than he wants, and it's a credit to him that in the final showdown, he keeps pace with Nicholson, never being outdone or pushed off screen. The film also boasts fine turns from Kevin bacon, Kiefer Sutherland and the late JT Walsh, but they could have found a better actress than Moore. Also the character can be somewhat irritating.
Sorkin's script is fantastic, sharp, witty, and explosive at the very end. Right, let's talk about that scene. This is a truly great showdown, right down to the angry, sneering speech from Col Jessop (it comes right after 'You can't handle the truth!'). This is just a very watchable, entertaining and involving thriller. It follows the standard lines of a courtroom thriller, through the 'it's a hopeless case' starting through to the dramatic turnaround, but it at least has a small sting in the tail. Watch it now. Are we clear?