Idealistic Navy lawyer Daniel Kaffee is assigned to defend two Marines, accused of murder. It seems like a clear-cut case, but as Kaffee probes deeper, he uncovers murky goings-on at the soldiers' army base
This timeless thriller acts as a reminder of how stars who have been so average elsewhere can produce excellent - some career-best - work when in the hands of a confident director (Reiner, who was then at the height of his powers followin When Harry Met Sally and Misery). Nicholson and Cruise, as the grizzled old army general holding onto secrets and the idealistic young lawyer turk who 'can't handle the truth' raise the bar on performances, and where they lead, everyone else, including a surprisingly solid Demi Moore, follows.
However, it's clear now, over ten years on from the movie's release, that the real star of A Few Good Men is the film's de facto creator, Aaron Sorkin, the big-brained genius who wrote the initial play upon which this was based. He went on to create the West Wing and the sharp-witted, intelluctually-charged machine-gun dialogue that personified that show's first few seasons is on display here, as Sorkin paints a morally complex picture of the highly-charged military situation in Cuba; circumvents conventions of the genre (Moore and Cruise's characters flirt, but never get it on) and still finds the time to fit in a couple of truly classic scenes. Now that's writing. The West Wing proved it was no fluke.
That rarest of things: a top-level Hollywood court-room drama with the smarts to match its slick style.