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It took me around two to three days to finish this film because I was too distracted from the director's cut three hour runtime and poor pacing. In what I had hoped to be a film that explores the scars that Kennedy's murder had left America, I instead experienced scene after scene after scene of who did this and who said that. Granted, such detailed examinations and investigations of the intricate details surrounding the witnesses and suspects involved in the cover-up are significant parts of history. But as a film, as a form of media entertainment, it's unfortunately draggy and overstuffed, resulting in the dilution of otherwise heartbreaking scenes that reminiscent on the great loss the American people suffered, the loss not being just a literal loss of a great man and a great (but flawed) president, but also the kind of loss Americans had to suffer as a result of the Vietnam War's withdrawal efforts (as pushed by John Kennedy and his also assassinated brother, Robert Kennedy) being invalidated upon John's assassination, ultimately leading to Vietnamese women and children being slaughtered by American soldiers in the 1968 My Lai Massacre. All in the name of money.

I'm not one for conspiracy theories. I don't care much about them. I care about facts and truths that are backed by hard evidence rather than the circumstantial kind. That being said, if a large portion of what is proclaimed in the film was true, specifically the eyewitness accounts, then the JFK conspiracy could hardly be labeled a mere baseless conspiracy. That's too much smoke to claim a lack of fire. Then there's The Zapruder Film. It was disturbing enough imagining that the president could be assassinated in broad daylight, but it's an understatement to say that witnessing the footage in Oliver Stone's film and Kennedy's head being blown open again (and again and again) was upsetting. But there it is, quite clear even with its dated quality, that the killing shot was indeed from the front, not the back, where the book depository was located. The magic bullet did not exist. Many men have probably combed over such a blatant and sloppy cover-up attempt over the years prior to '91, but Stone conveyed to his audience (albeit just as sloppily) the kind of power the government could potentially have over its people through lies and deceit... even if it's mostly made-up.

Putting aside the kind of attention on our government the film brought to the audience, I still have to return to my initial point - it is an overstuffed film full of meandering. There were a number of things that should have rightly been cut, if it hadn't already in the theatrical release, such as Bill Broussard (Michael Rooker)'s whole subplot that didn't go anywhere significant, and many of the "key witnesses" to Garrison's case could have had their screentime shortened to a montage, especially when their testifying led to a pointless trial against Clay Shaw anyway, as history would remember. And the bad pacing is the least of the problem in this overdramatized retelling of the Garrison trial.

Speaking of the glaringly dated portrayal of the gay man, this was probably the biggest misstep in Stone's film, including his portrayal of Garrison as a typical heroic white man in search of the truth. The real life Garrison investigation was a sloppy mess, as the media would describe it today in 2020. But whether if Garrison was truly what Stone and Costner would have us believe, a hero so unbelievably cliched in his staunchness for truth, justice and the American way or just a hypocrite with something against homosexuals is irrelevant; what's more important is Stone's handling of Shaw's portrayal, particularly tying his homosexuality to the more tasteless elements like Hitler. I just feel that, looking back today in 2020, with the LGBTQ community recently receiving a big win in Congress, that such a portrayal seems incredibly dated in hindsight. But you know what they say about hindsight.

So when it comes down to it, JFK is unfortunately a product of its time, a sensationalized piece that might have been produced with good intentions, but filled with cliches and exaggerations that cheapen its value as a reflection of such a historical event.