“A Few Good Men” is a heavy drama revolving around the trial of two U.S. Marines, who are accused of killing another Marine, and the effort of three assigned officers to win their case.
On the first twenty minutes, we already know who is the perpetrator, and we can already form our personal judgment whether the two U.S. Marines, Dawson and Downey, be put to jail or not. Unfortunately, our characters is still about to find out and the only suspense we get is how they are going to find out, which is not enthralling since we know who will be the last person to testify.
The better half of the film is spent mostly in the courtroom, debating about the case of Dawson and Downey, and I have to say, it is a great plot device to use the witnesses to reveal information bit by bit rather than a cut to a series of investigation, this way the film spares us from the actual trial going on.
My only argument is that the whole story is quite shallow for a dramatic film. There is nothing at stake. If Dawson and Downey losses, they spent their life in jail. Normally, you should get mad on this fact but D and D (allow me to call them like that) just look straight ahead upon hearing this. We don’t even see them participating on unearthing facts, at least not freely. They just flash this grave look that says, do whatever you want, we don’t really care. So why should I even care about the case?
The first conflict I can come up with is how should the three assigned officers prove to the court that D and D are innocent, which is a bit ironic since these officers don’t really have a solid evidence to prove their statement, but as fate would have it they will later rightfully receive it. You might think that the system or the government is the conflict. At first, yes it’s the government. On second thought, not really. The government is not even trying hard, at least in the way I see it. The government is neutral.
The second conflict is from Tom Cruise’s playful lawyer character, Daniel Kaffee, who is afraid of falling short on achieving something, as this would stain his late father’s reputation. In fact, he hasn’t entered the courtroom not until D and D’s case. Unfortunately, this conflict ends when the earlier mentioned conflict starts.
Demi Moore’s character, JoAnne Galloway, is the whole reason why the D and D case is raised. She takes it seriously, accompanying Daniel in all the investigation and makes sure that everything goes smoothly. But there’s no reason to justify her behavior. When asked why she is doing all this trouble, she answers, “Cause they stand on a wall and they say, ‘Nothing’s gonna hurt you tonight, not on my watch’”. This isn’t convincing at all, unless she has a painful memory on the matter. There are people who render service to protect people (i.e. police, security guard) and they might have a heavier case than this (i.e. death penalty) but why wouldn’t JoAnne prioritize them?
If you’re fond of watching courtroom scene, hearing intellectual rebuttals, this is the film for you. It’s intense. There is no room for a little bit of romance, even though by the look of the characters they demand it. The two U.S. Marines are charged for three penalties – murder, conspiracy, unbecoming a U.S. Marine – and by the end, I liked what the court’s verdict, and you will too.
PS: Have you ever heard of the famous line “You can’t handle the TRUTH!”? Who would have thought it came from the “A Few Good Men”