Casualties of War (1989)
March 9, 2016 10:30 PM - Subscribe

During the Vietnam War, a soldier finds himself the outsider of his own squad when they unnecessarily kidnap a female villager.

WaPo: On one level, De Palma's films have always been about complicity; in his pictures, everyone is implicated, no one is innocent, least of all the audience. In this sense, Eriksson acts as our surrogate, and he is not let off the hook simply by not participating. His horror is not enough, and neither is his determination to bring the incident to light.

NYTimes: t is less about the random physical horrors of war, less about the system that makes men able to fight wars, than about individual responsibility. This is cinema of conscience about a man, still seen by many as a stool pigeon, who tries to buck the chain of command that effectively neutralizes all guilt.

Rolling Stone: More than any other Vietnam film to date, Casualties of War shows how quickly the sexual instinct can become a killing instinct, how quickly both instincts can become a test of maleness and how quickly the unthinkable can become the inevitable. A prologue and epilogue show Eriksson years after his discharge. The soldiers he had helped convict are now free, their sentences reduced. But Eriksson is still tormented. No big pictorial De Palma effects for the climax. Only the devastation written on Eriksson's face to mark wounds that may never heal.

Roger Ebert: More than most films, it depends on the strength of its performances for its effect - and especially on Penn's performance. If he is not able to convince us of his power, his rage and his contempt for the life of the girl, the movie would not work. He does, in a performance of overwhelming, brutal power. Fox, as his target, plays a character most of us could probably identify with, the person to whom rape or murder is unthinkable, but who has never had to test his values in the crucible of violence. The movie's message, I think, is that in combat human values are lost and animal instincts are reinforced. We knew that already. But the movie makes it inescapable, especially when we reflect that the story is true, and the victim was real.

Hitfix: Movie Rehab: Fox vs. Penn in Brian De Palma's overlooked 'Casualties Of War'

Slant Magazine: Casualties of War

posted by MoonOrb (1 comment total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I need to rewatch this film, but the last time I saw it, as much as I love Michael J. Fox as an actor, I found the film itself somewhat underwhelming. I think I was also comparing it against Platoon, which had a richer tapestry of characters, and thus, made it far more interesting and engaging.
posted by Atreides at 7:30 AM on March 10, 2016

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