Friday, July 07, 2006

A Few Good Men is one of the few good courtroom dramas. In fact, the movie is one of those that I could watch, over and over again. It is definitely in the pantheon of great legal movies, and this is because of one man: Jack Nicholson.

Perhaps the most memorable scene from the film is the one that is most pertinent today, in our world, fighting The War Against Terror. To refresh your recollection, we go to the action. The Nancy Boy Navy JAG, LT Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise, has LTC Nathan R. Jessep (USMC) on the witness stand, and he is leading him to the slaughterhouse. We are to take this as a sign of the superiority of the (obviously) Democrat LT Kaffee over the dark, forboding (and obviously) Republican LTC Jessep.

As earlier noted, people want to tell you the truth when they are on the stand. They want to tell you how smart they are, they want to tell you what they did. So, in retrospect, this isn't necessarily great lawyering on the part of the Cruise character, it is just an expected outcome.

Jessep is asked about the Code Red that led to the death of a substandard Marine. The exchange goes like this:

Lieutenant Kaffee: Colonel Jessep! Did you order the "code red?!!"

Judge Randolph: You don't have to answer that question!

Jessep: I'll answer the question. You want answers?

Lieutenant Kaffee: I think I'm entitled to them.

Jessep: You want answers?!

Lieutenant Kaffee: I want the truth!

Jessep: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know -- that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall -- you need me on that wall.

We use words like "honor," "code," "loyalty." We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather that you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand the post. Either way, I don't give a DAMN what you think you're entitled to!

Lieutenant Kaffee: Did you order the "code red?"

Jessep: I did the job I was --

Lieutenant Kaffee: -- Did you order the "code red?!"

Jessep: You're god damn right I did!!!

All right, NetFlix this flick and watch it. We will continue the review later, after I watch this film again (for the 50th time). And no, I don't watch it for Demi Moore. And yes, I do read Playboy for the articles.

This film gets maximum points.

My second favorite line:

Col. Jessep: So how is your dad, Danny?

Kaffee: He passed away seven years ago, sir.

Col. Jessep: Don't I feel like the fucking asshole?

Kaffee: Not at all sir.