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War Action / English / 1986

Another oft-cited war movie.

Platoon falls doubly into the categories of being an anti-war movie, as well as a story focused on inter-character relationships.

Here we have the Vietnam War, which was already a very popular war to hate, and Platoon takes an incredibly weak and self-contradictory attempt to validate those opinions.

On one hand it wants to be an introspective thought piece on the futility of war and the oppressive ladder of power that continually jogs it into motion. But at the same time it wants to be a conventional action movie where one of the Sergeants is just evil.

And Charlie Sheen is an honestly terrible foil to his character, particularly because before the scene in which Sgt. Barnes is witnessed shooting a civilian, Sheen's character was busy shooting at and threatening to kill a half-blind one-legged man for absolutely no reason.

At first I thought I was supposed to sympathize with the fear-of-the-unknown that motivated these violent impulses, but then when that scene flows right into the the next scene and Sheen is suddenly so compassionate for the poor Vietnamese civilians... it just comes off as complete bullshit.

Unlike Saving Private Ryan, this movie attempts to characterize it's characters, but there's nothing of substance to go off of. Most of the black characters are predictably preoccupied with the fact that they're black characters, John C. McGinley is just playing Perry from Scrubs, everybody else is presented as weathered-by-war hardasses, and the only seemingly likeable character, is surprisingly Willem Dafoe, who not only plays the "good" Sergeant but is actually the guy who famously appears on the movie posters and cover. I had no idea.

But even HE has a scene in which half the cast is drugged the **** out, disconcertingly looks directly into the camera, holds the barrel of a gun to Charlie Sheen's face and invites him to smoke his pre-smoked cigarette from the end of it.

How about NO?

I understand that this is the late 60s, and people are supposed to be idiots about drugs and all, but that's a whole 'nother level of retard.

The movie concerns itself with one sergeant shooting some random lady in the head, but the "good" sergeant just about shot his own officer's head off trying to mouth-feed him drugs.

That scene, unfortunately, seriously tainted the rest of the movie for me, because it's hard to sympathize with or for characters that unfathomably stupid. Not to mention, it's a tent full of sweaty guys who haven't bathed so the body odor must be terrible, they're smoking hash so you got the smell of rotting burning garbage on top of that, AND THEN you have the privilege of the tasting the inside of Willem Dafoe's mouth.

I think I'll pass.

Gosh, I sure hate war. Would be a shame if this movie were to completely ignore the context of it. Oh, look at that, it did.

Even Saving Private Ryan featured an arc in which the choices of the soldiers influenced somebody to become an enemy combatant later, the soldiers in Platoon straight up massacre a village and the consequences of that decision are never represented by anything the Vietnamese do, it simply a plot device for us to shake our fist at the Sgt. Barnes character who seems to represent the United States military for some vague reason.

The action never really engaged me like SPR did, the messaging is weak as hell, the acting consists almost entirely of angry yelling and braggadocio. Again, I don't give a shit about any dialog whinging about "dem white honkeys" or how much this or that character desperately wants "pussy". You're just making me hate the cast.

There isn't even any effort to humanize the Vietnamese, everything shown to be awful that's done to them seems to exist for no other reason than to develop Sheen's incredibly rushed character arc. Like when Sheen and Keith David are shown to be all buddy-buddy as though they have this strong relationship, it comes out of nowhere! We've been doing timeskips to Charlie Sheen narrations and all of a sudden I'm supposed to appreciate the bond these two characters have developed with the all of NOTHING screentime they've shared together?

But, okay, it's time to spill the beans, I'm just talking about all this to distract from what is actually the most important part of the movie, and that is...

I have 100% heard Adagio for Strings before. And I immediately recognized it when Platoon opened with it.

I recognized it again when they played it the second time.

And the third time.

And the fourth time.

And the fifth time.

And the sixth time.


This stupid ****ing song is like the only ******* song in the whole movie and it's always played from the beginning, so it's not even like this is a leitmotif that the movie revisits that much more clever films will use to subtlety pair scenes... it's just A SONG that they play AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.

And of course it's one of those overly-saccharine songs like Woe is Me that honestly carry this movie's anti-war vibes harder than the actual script does.

I realize that I'm perhaps biased because this song maybe wasn't too frequently sampled prior to Platoon, but even accepting that it is WAY too repetitive for any music track in a movie and I cannot think of another movie I've seen that has run a single song into the ground so many times as Platoon did with Adagio for Strings.

I was not impressed.

Final Verdict: