Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1989. Ixtlan. Screenplay by Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic, based on the book by Ron Kovic. Cinematography by Robert Richardson. Produced by A. Kitman Ho, Lope V. Juban Jr., Oliver Stone. Music by John Williams. Production Design by Bruno Rubeo. Costume Design by Judy L. Ruskin. Film Editing by David Brenner. Academy Awards 1989. Golden Globe Awards 1989. National Board Of Review Awards 1989. New York Film Critics Awards 1989.
The second part of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam trilogy is this biography of veteran Ron Kovic, upon whose book the film is based, with Tom Cruise doing a fantastic job of bringing great levels of drama and pathos to the role. It was the sort of dramatic breakthrough he needed, especially considering that his excellent work in Rain Man a year before had gone completely ignored in favour of co-star Dustin Hoffman. Kovic leaves for Vietnam a wide-eyed, excited adventurer and comes back paralysed below the waist and with a broken spirit. Not only has he destroyed his body for his country, but now his country is embarrassed by him and what he represents as a survivor of a war that no one wants to admit happened. Willem Dafoe is magnificent as Kovic’s superior in the battlefield, and the film is technically achieved with much finesse: Stone does a fantastic job of combining the lyrical cinematography and John Williams’ grand score with skilful editing and gory, realistic battle sequences.