Saturday, 22 January 2011

The other people who made A Few Good Men

With The Social Network about to win all the Oscars, it's time to watch Aaron Sorkin's first film, A Few Good Men. Two marines are accused of murder at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and Tom Cruise is brought in to defend them. He doesn't take things very seriously amongst the hard-drilled marines, quickly getting into trouble with Jack Nicholson. He believes his clients may have been ordered to murder one of their fellow marines, but he can't prove it. A Few Good Men ramps up to something engrossing. Not just courtroom drama, but with the familiar Sorkin pace and craft. And on top of that, there's Jack Nicholson saying the words. Tom Cruise is all very well and good, but Nicholson is the force of the film. Playing a fanatical colonel with a dislike for just about everybody, he can spin a character out of a glance. Particularly in the final scenes, where he goes into battle against Cruise's courtroom questioning, he's mesmerising. A figure of authority that has to be taken down piece by piece - arrogant, single minded, and scary. The script itself was based on Sorkin's play, so all the action is in the meaty dialogue. Sorkin was asked how he was going to 'open it up' for the screenplay, and not knowing what this meant, he added a bit where the main character buys a newspaper as the 'action scene'. While it doesn't have the blistering pace of something like The Social Network or The West Wing, it's recognisable. People talking in rooms (usually lawyers) is what defines the scripts, but they do talk in rooms very well. And there's an appearance from Joshua Malina and Sorkin himself to keep the people who notice these things happy.

It probably comes somewhere behind The West Wing and The Social Network on the Sorkin-o-meter. Very good, but there's better to come. Of course, a real film reviewer would have pointed out the other people involved in making the film. But with Sorkin soon to start directing as well, I won't have to remember to mention anyone else.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favourite court room films alongside Rules of Engagement. Nicholson steals the show as usual.