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Oscars Challenge #75: Platoon (1986) Movie Review

Throughout the history of Oscar Best Pictures, we have witnessed several movies depicting real-life events. All Quiet on the Western Front, Cavalcade, and Wings showed extreme events during World War I. Casablanca, From Here to Eternity, and The Best Years of Our Lives featured events during World War II.

For the Vietnam War, two award-winning films depicted the events of that horrible war. One of them is Platoon. A film that probably started the career of Johnny Depp. But it's popularly known by the scene of Willem Dafoe raising his arms.

Plot Summary

It's the year 1967. U.S. Army volunteer Chris Taylor arrives in Vietnam and is assigned to a platoon near the Cambodian border. There he meets Lieutenant Wolfe, a young and inexperienced leader whom the troops don't follow. They instead respond to the command of Sergeant Barnes, an older and more battle-tested officer that is both ruthless and war-torn. He also meets Sergeant Elias, an idealistic version of Officer Barnes.

Taylor is deployed together with Barnes and Elias and soon realizes the brutality of the war after North Vietnamese Soldiers ambush them. He also gets close to Elias and the other soldiers but admits that the ideals of Barnes are different from his.

This is the first of the trilogy of Vietnam War films by the director Oliver Stone. This movie has a whole stack of casts like Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and a minor role from Johnny Depp.


Platoon had some hard-to-watch sequences. One example is soldiers fighting for the exact cause and eventually turning against each other. I think anything about the Vietnam War that is not a comedy is difficult to watch. It feels like every scene delivers a psychological effect on everyone.

Platoon's story might be the closest to Oliver Stone's experience as a soldier in Vietnam War. I think it's interesting for a director to tell a story about his experience, especially if it brought him nightmares.

I believe Platoon's plot is not the best, but not the worst. It has some solid essential points, such as the psychological battles that the soldiers face when their lives are on the line, betrayal of comrades, and survival attitude towards adversaries. I am not quite sure what it lacks, to be honest, but I felt the movie was incomplete of some sort.

I think it is a pretty intense film and an essential watch.

A solid 3.5 out of 5 stars for me.

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