A Few Good Men, starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore, is one my favourite courtroom dramas. It's a bit too dramatic in parts, but that's the way I like them the best.
Here's a scene from the movie: Cruise and Moore, who are investigating a murder, are collecting details from Colonel Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson, about an order that that the colonel might have given causing the death of one Pvt Santiago at Guantanamo Bay.
Jessep complies and later in the middle of the lunch breaks into a monologue. He is addressing Cruise whose character is outranked by Moore's.
"There is nothing on this earth sexier, believe me, gentlemen, than a woman you have to salute in the morning. Promote 'em all, I say, 'cause this is true: if you haven't gotten a blowjob from a superior officer, well, you're just letting the best in life pass you by."
All at once with that one word, blowjob, the waters are vitiated. Cruise who visibly flinches then and there decides to nail Jessep. And this is significant because Cruise has thus far spend more time on the baseball field than in court. He is eager to settle this case out of court, but now he wants to go after Jessep, who might anytime be promoted.
The story opens with two marines giving the "Code Red" to Santiago. This may have unwittingly caused his death, and yet the marines were only following orders. Code Red is a kind of punishment unofficially given by the Marines at the Guantanamo Bay, where soldiers standing on a huge wall are guarding the US from Cuba. This is still in the height of the cold war.
The military prosecutor (Kevin Bacon) plays it like a cold fish. He is the kind of lawyer who approaches his case clinically and perform his duty without sentiment clouding his judgement.
The supporting cast is incredible. It boasts among others Kevin Pollack, Keifer Sutherland, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Wolfgang Bodison, who plays a black Marine charged with murder.
The chemistry between Cruise and Moore, who seems to be the older woman, is palpable. And though the two don't end in bed, which is rare for Moore, the scenes between them do have a certain sensual quality.
The courtroom sequences work well. And though the suspense is not much, the actors squeeze it for what it's worth. Cruise plays it straight, which is difficult when you are up against Jack Nicholson, who, in turn, acts as if he were a reptile. You can almost see reptilian scales on Nicholson's face. The climatic clash him and is superb and always leaves me with a high.
And yet all of this does not amount to great cinema. I suspect director Rob Reiner knows this and sets the movie up in a way that his audience is hooked anyway.
Here a couple are trying to review every movie that won the Best Oscar. Hmmm...Interesting.