@4 months ago with 6 notes
#casualties of war #brian de palma #michael j. fox #michael j fox #sean penn #ennio morricone #john c. reilly #john c reilly #don harvey #john leguizamo #ving rhames
Casualties Of War (1989)
Many years after his second feature length movie Greetings (1968), Casualties Of War is Brian De Palma’s second anti-war movie, the main difference is that Casualties Of War actually takes place in a war (Vietnam). It is based on the actual events of the incident on Hill 192 in 1966, when a couple of American soldiers kidnapped, raped and killed a young Vietnamese woman.
De Palma takes his time to tell the story of the soldiers and the girl. Before the kidnapping takes place, the audience gets to know the group of soldiers quite well, ranging from the naive private Herbert Hatcher (John C. Reilly in his first acting role on screen) to the power crazy sergeant Tony Meserve (Sean Penn). Michael J. Fox is the main character, Eriksson, the only one in the group who openly opposes to the idea of kidnapping the girl. De Palma makes Fox’ point very clear, almost like he thinks the audience doesn’t quite get it. A couple of redundant philosophical conversations between Eriksson and some other army personnel are almost bothersome. The same goes for some overtly sentimental scenes, they don’t really have any additional value except for being dramatic. The score by Ennio Morricone only enhances this feeling. De Palma’s overall directing isn’t as striking as in his other movies. There aren’t really any long tracking shots, except for a very good opening scene and a scene where a soldier throws a hand grenade at Eriksson, which is a fantastic POV tracking shot. Another noteworthy scene is the one where the soldiers are in court. It’s confrontational and compelling, albeit a little short. It’s the scene where the audience can clearly see De Palma’s focus on the soldiers being the casualties of war, their lives ruined after making a mistake.
It’s too bad I couldn’t really notice De Palma’s input. The rustic or grotesque atmosphere he usually manages to create is more absent in Casualties Of War. What’s left is a good anti-war movie with a long overdue message.