Tagline: A story of innocence lost and courage found.
Meet Ron Kovic: a young boy living in Massapequa, Long Island, New York. He plays war in the woods behind his house with his childhood friends and his birthday is July 4th. Ron’s family is patriotic and Catholic. While in high school, he’s on the wrestling team. With the threat of communism closing in on the United States, Ron decides to enlist as a Marine in order to fight in the Vietnam War.
The story takes off, leaving small-town Massapequa, and traveling abruptly to Ron’s second Vietnam tour in 1968. After massacring a small village of Vietnamese civilians and accidentally killing a fellow marine, Ron gets shot in the foot and twice in the chest while on patrol a few weeks later. His wounds are critical and he’s left paralyzed from the mid-chest down. His recovery in the Bronx Veterans Administration hospital, where the atrociously unhygienic living conditions, apathetic nurses and absent doctors, force Ron to fight for his right to be treated as a human being.
The rest of the film chronicles Ron’s return to Massapequa and his disillusionment from his family, and country.
I thought the film was highly emotional and extremely tense in some parts. For example, when Ron returns home in a drunken frenzy he confronts his mother on her religious zeal and embarrassment over his disability. I noticed these extreme close up facial shots that just heightened power of the scenes as well as the drastic transformation Ron Kovic’s look undergoes. All in all, I thought this movie was excellent in showing the 1960s and 70s America torn apart by war and those Vietnam veterans fighting for a place in society.
If you like war dramas, this is a great one to add to your repertoire. If not, watch it anyways, you might learn something.