Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Kevin Dillon, Keith David, Tony Todd and Johnny Depp

Oliver Stone

Running Time:
120 mins

"Oh my God, it's Elias"

Volunteering for a year long tour in Vietnam Pvt. Chris Taylor (Sheen) soon realises the war is nothing like he ever thought it would be. With new grunts seen as fresh meat for the grinder, Chris finds it hard to fit in with his new platoon. Tension gets even worse when they are assigned investigate VC insurgence in a village and the two rival sergeants Elias Grodin (Dafoe) and Bob Barnes (Berenger) comes to blows over Barnes' method of extracting information. As the platoon becomes divided, Chris realises that the VC might not be the only enemy in the jungle.

When it comes to naming defining movies about the conflict in Vietnam, there are three films that will make everyone's selection and one of those is 'Platoon'.

Oliver Stone's groundbreaking movie took you into the heart of darkness, showing you the Vietnam War from the prospective a lowly grunt thrust into a war weary platoon. This was a time when the fresh meat for the grinder was plenty and the rookie wasn't expected to last past the first few patrols. What made 'Platoon' different from many films that had come before is that it depicted a conflict that the American forces were losing.

Even in the late 1960s, the troops on the ground knew that they were fighting a losing battle. This was causing moral to drop and fighting within the platoons. Oliver Stone's semi-autobiographical account of a cherry in country for the first time, add controversy by showing the US troops abusing prisoners and killing each other. This was a no hold's barred look and one that had not been done since 'Apocalypse Now'. This is also the film that brought Stone to the forefront and launched his directorial career.

It was the reality of the piece that made 'Platoon' such a standout film in the Vietnam movie genre. Told from Chris's prospective, the rookie soldier narrates the story as he is writing letters home to his grandmother. This narrative drives the movie along and gives you an insight to the characters thoughts on war and how the events happening around him are affecting his state of mind. It is the excellent cast that makes 'Platoon' such a classic. Leading the line is the performance of Charlie Sheen as Chris. This was a time when the actor was going through a career-defining period that he would never quite capture again. With outstanding performances in 'Wall Street', 'Young Guns' and 'Eight Men Out', this was a time that Sheen was a dramatic actor and not the comedic one we know today. As Chris, he creates a patriotic character, who actually volunteered who realises that the war might not be the what he expected. Joining him is an outstanding ensemble cast that brings the platoon and its conflicts to life. Leading the line are the two sergeants played by Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe. Berenger's SSgt. Bob Barnes is a truly repulsive character that commands loyalty from troops without question, whatever he does. This is a role that the actor revels in and he creates a character that is easy to hate. It is Willem Defoe whose career has been defined by playing villains and bad guys but you have to remember he is a talented actor who can shine in any role. As Sgt. Elias Grodin he is a character that you expect the US soldier to be like as he is in essence a good man. He is a hippy soldier whose principles will bring him into conflict with Barnes. This is one of Dafoe's highlights in a brilliant career.

The rest of the cast are also first rate with standout performances from John C. McGinley as Sgt. Red O'Neill, Keith David as King, Forest Whitaker as Big Harold, Kevin Dillon as Bunny and a very young Johnny Depp as Pvt. Gator Lerner.

'Platoon' is not only one of the best Vietnam films ever made but also one of the best war movies in the genre. With a compelling and realistic storyline and brilliantly realised characters, this is a genre-defining movie that still sets a standard for all war movies to follow.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts soundtracks, the movie is presented extremely well.


Disc 1

Audio Commentary with Oliver Stone
The writer/director provides a frank and honest commentary for his semi-autobiographical film based on his own experiences in Vietnam. He reveals how hard it was to get financing for the movie and the lack of studio interest in making a movie about a war that America lost. Stone also remembers his time in country, talking honestly about his experiences and how he used to write the script. This is a descent commentary from a director who feels very passionate about the subject and his film.

Audio Commentary with Capt. Dale Dye
The technical advisor and trainer for 'Platoon' talks about the Vietnam War and bringing the reality of that conflict to the movie. He reveals that he and Oliver Stone wanted to make the definitive Vietnam film and after spending over 30 months in country, he used his knowledge and experience to provide just that. The former marine captain talks about the training regime that he put the actors through, making them actually be their character's ranks in training as well as the movie. This is a fascinating commentary from Dale Dye that is a joy to listen to.

Disc 2

Tour of the Inferno: Documentary (50.42 mins)
Writer/director Oliver Stone, producer Arnold Kopelson, technical advisor Dale Dye and stars Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley and Johnny Depp reminisce about making 'Platoon'. With archive footage from the war and behind the scenes B-Roll, the documentary charts the making of the movie from the Boot Camp training that the young cast went through, onto production in the Philippines and the release of the film. The stars and filmmakers reveal how they wanted to make the film as authentic as possible, talking about the characters and how they related to real life people in Oliver Stone's actual Vietnam platoon. This is not a new documentary and it is a mix of old interviews taken over the years since the film's release but it is still an interesting watch.

One War, many Stories (24.29 mins)
Director Oliver Stone and veterans from the war in Vietnam reminisce about the war during a screening of 'Platoon' on May 3rd 2005. The men recount stories brought back after viewing the film, revealing how much Oliver Stone got right in his portrayal of the conflict, talking about the trust and camaraderie between the troops and the horrors they say while in country. This is a moving featurette as the soldiers are honest and frank about their experiences.

Preparations for the Nam (6.20 mins)
Director Oliver Stone and veterans Bill Hutton, Paul Gold and Dr James Lull talk about the eight weeks basic training the infantry troops went through before heading off to the conflict. They talk about what the training was like, the drill instructors and what they learned from the experience.

TV Spots
Three TV advertisements entitled 'The Director', 'Action' and 'Critical Acclaim' Platoon Still Galleries Behind the scenes and poster art from the movie

Original Theatrical Trailer (1.51 mins)
The original 1986 promotional trailer


The two-disc special edition of Platoon is a bit of a mixed bag. While the documentary is still an interesting watch, it would have been better if the interviews had been a little more recent. The other featurettes are good however, especially 'One War, many Stories' which is extremely moving. Fans of the film should be pleased however but you can't help thinking MGM could have done a slightly better job.


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