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The movie begins fairly conventionally, with the teenage military cadets and their venerable institution shown to the viewer to be upright, virtuous, and full of sound moral values. The youths may be a bit immature at times, and callow, but their earnestness and sincerity are shown as admirable and their devotion to their gruff, benevolent commandant (George C. Scott, perfectly cast) is unquestioned. You can literally hear the Sousa marches playing in the background. But just when you think you're in for a predictable, one-sided, nattily uniformed prep school movie preaching the military virtues, the plot takes a darker twist and we learn that appearances can be very deceiving. Faced with the closing of the school, the boys turn renegade, immediately betraying their duty of obedience in the emotions of the moment. While determined, brave, and motivated by principle, they are at the same time defying legal authority and behaving unwisely. Recognition of this causes the relationships and trust among the cadets to splinter tragically. Through the words of Hutton's career soldier father -- a wonderful supporting performance, with the hard, practical professional tearing down the cadets' naivete -- we are presented a picture of Scott's commandant that does not fit the boys' hero-worshipful image. And then the national guardsman who arrives to end the armed takeover of the school acts as Hutton's conscience, pointing out to him how far from the path of honor he has truly strayed.Read more ›
In fact, I imagine that today's audiences couldn't sit through the first thirty minutes, as it's mostly filled with dialogue, and seemingly boring military school proceedings. But this is all very important, as it shows you the full load of dynamite just waiting to go off. Then as the movie progresses, it quickly delves into a 'Lord of the Flies' situation where there's youth in revolt. As the drama and tension rises, it soon becomes very clear that despite what you hope for, all will not end well. And when the end finally does come, it's hard to watch, even though it almost seems necessary.
The movie is certainly though-provoking, taking on themes of independence, military school, indoctrination, brain washing, honor, duty, dignity, courage, and fighting for what you believe in. They're thoughts that stay with you for awhile, and they offer no real answer, but it will challenge your beliefs.
Overall, an underrated and brilliant character masterpiece, with superb acting from some now famous stars, and a story that causes you to think. Granted, it makes me want to stay far away from military schools, and it's hard to watch at times, but "Taps" is a must-see movie.
What was believable were the performances of the actors involved. Timothy Hutton was perfect as the sensible yet fiercly principled and devoted leader of a group of boys at a military school, and Tom Cruise dynamite as the head of the Red Berets. Keep in mind George C. Scott, the general, when he mentions to the newly appointed Timothy Hutton how war brings out the "wolf", a kind of primal elation that a man realizes only in warfare. And many other things which help build a logic for what follows in the movie.
I was kind of in awe of it the first time I saw it some 26 years ago in a movie theater as an eleven-year-old kid. I saw it again tonight on dvd then just to test my childhood powers of perception, to see if it was as cool as i remembered it, and it pretty much was! Two thumbs up, Ebert!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pretty silly premise, a boys HS with 4-deuce mortars for summer training. Typical idiocy of actors like Penn.Published 3 days ago by TK
An older movie with young actors - Tom Cruise being one of them.Published 5 days ago by Dean Collins
A good movie, with some well-known stars at a very young age. Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton do nice jobs, while Tom Cruise is--well, horrible to the point his performance is almost... Read morePublished 7 days ago by ADK Sonny
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