Platoon is the most hellish depiction of the Vietnam war I’ve seen up to this point. Oliver Stone was the first war veteran to direct a Vietnam film. Giving Platoon a sense of realism that’s difficult to replicate. It’s the second Vietnam film to win Best Picture after The Deer Hunter. Stone made Platoon to counter film’s that glorified the war as anything other than a horrific war that should never have been fought. Platoon is far from the laugh riot The Naked Gun makes it out to be.
It follows a platoon of soldiers at the height of the Vietnam War. The opening Bible quote represents the theme of youth and the unfortunate loss of innocence. The ensemble cast is full of familiar faces that I was seeing in a whole new light. I didn’t even realise Johnny Depp had a bit part. This is easily the most serious role I’d seen Charlie Sheen in. He plays a young volunteer regretting his decision to enlist, but trying his best to maintain his humanity. Willem Dafoe plays the most moral commanding officer in a break out Oscar nominated performance. He’s the one who strikes the iconic pose that best represents the devastation of the war.
His exact opposite is Tom Berenger as an experienced soldier driven to an insanity that’s made him a murderous monster. Keith David and Forest Whitaker are moral soldiers, but most of their platoon is driven mad as well. The Viet Cong attack without warning, yet they aren’t the biggest threat that they face. The true enemy is within. Which is why the village scene is so difficult to get through. Platoon doesn’t hold back in depicting the harsh reality and moral loss of the Vietnam war.