One of the best films made about the devastating impact of the Vietnam War on the body politic, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY is superbly executed by director Oliver Stone, who evokes what may be Tom Cruise's best performance as Vietnam vet Ron Kovic. Before the war starts, Kovic is a normal American kid, going to school, hanging out with his friends, and bagging groceries for pocket money. But as the Vietnam conflict begins to impact the lives of everyone around him, the patriotic teenager decides to enlist. Although his father (Raymond J. Berry) is not happy with his decision, his mother (Caroline Kava) could hardly be more enthusiastic. Once in combat, Kovic becomes disillusioned with his commanding officer (John Getz) who dismisses the fact that Kovic accidentally shot one of their own men in combat. Shortly thereafter, Kovic is paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet in the spine. He must begin a lengthy and excruciatingly painful rehabilitation, which includes a period in the shockingly negligent Bronx Veteran's Hospital. He finally returns to his hometown, now a confused, embittered, and alienated man. His family is also unsettled, unsure about how to deal with this very changed person. After a dissipated spree with other disabled vets like Charlie (Willem Dafoe), Kovic begins talking to antiwar activists like Donna (Kyra Sedgwick) and starts to reevaluate his thinking. In sum, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY is a deeply moving true account of the effects of war on its survivors.
The cast includes Tom Cruise, Raymond J. Barry, Bryan Larkin, Caroline Kava, Josh Evans, Jake Webber, Oliver Stone, William Mapother, Jason Gedrick, Jack McGee, David Herman, Bob Gunton, Mike Starr, William Baldwin, Frank Whaley and David Warshofsky.
Born on the Fourth of July won 2 Oscars at the
1990 Academy Awards