This movie about an man’s fight to retain his individuality under condition of war when every man is supposed to do his ‘duty’ and die without a murmur. Its takes a courageous man to stand up and be different and perhaps more than courageous – mad and eccentric and stubborn would be better characteristics…
And Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell) is one such man who chose to fight to retain his identity at a time when it was difficult to remain in the grey area – Bozz is a part of a platoon that is sent for final training before being shipped off to Vietnam.
He is stubborn, non-conformist, unsentimental, rebellious and will not do something just because people tell him to and shows insubordination at every step. He has certain views which may not be radical but which makes him abhor violence and unnecessary show of superiority. He persists in being a rebel even after numerous punishments. However he is shown to be a natural and an excellent soldier when he chooses to be and this is noticed by his commanders.
Bozz is a lone ranger with a side of him which really cares for people around him, which he can only demonstrate by doing something for them. He strikes up a friendship with Paxton (Matthew Davis), a person who shares his views. Along the way he finds a way out for a couple of people who misguidedly entered the war. This earns him the respect of his comrades but ruffles the feathers of the top brass. He however turns out to be an unstoppable force and is given a position of responsibility – platoon leader. This however does not change his position on anything at all. He plans to escape and almost succeeds but comes back his own because he realizes that he is needed.
He saves one last person from going to the war – the person closest to him. And he eventually goes to the front taking his ‘place’, thus completing his pact of friendship. Right till the end, he remains defiant and retains his core being.
This is one of the war movies which is more about the effect of war on individuals than about any ‘action’ – and this is the type I like best (with exceptions like Thin Red Line). Similar movies have been made but watch this movie for the character that Farrell plays – he really gets into the skin of Bozz. And this is as good an anti-war movie as any (in one of the early scenes, he is seen reading the book – Johnny got a Gun, which sets up the tone of the movie).