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Casualties Of War  

USA 1989 Directed by Brian De Palma. Starring: Michael J. Fox, Sean Penn, Don Harvey, John C. Reilly, John Leguizamo.

It is in the middle of the raging Vietnam war. A squad of American soldiers takes after a mission a break, at a little peaceful Vietnamese village. There, is suddenly the squads popular radio man shot to death, with only a month left to demob. All in the group takes the loss of him very hard, in particular sergeant Meserve (Sean Penn). They are filled with hatred and vindictiveness to the whole Vietnam. The day after gets the squad a new mission, and Meserve tells them to kill every single gook they┤ll see.

During the journey are they kidnap a young Vietnamese girl, for the purpose of as Meserve says "to have a little portable relaxation to keep up the morale". The squads greenhorn private Eriksson (Michael J. Fox), is against it from the beginning, but feels at the same time a certain loyalty for Meserve, who saved his life in the last mission. The Vietnamese is after a while raped by the soldiers, and when Eriksson refuses, is Meserve trying to force him to do it. Eriksson is still stick to his guns, but feels now that he not only has Viet-cong as his enemy, but also his own group comrades. When the girl later on is murdered, gets Eriksson feelings of guilt over that he couldn┤t save her. He tries to bring his former buddies in court instead, but it┤s not so easy that he had thought.

The first ten minutes of "Casualties of War" is not specially good, and it doesn┤t seems that Brian De Palma can describe the horrors of war. But then, when he relates about the squads conflicts, is it to become much better. It is built on a true story, and shows what a war can do with young people, when they are put under hard pressure. The squad acts on their own responsibility, and has completely lost the sense of human dignity. It is very interesting and as a man, felt I┤m empty inside when I saw the film. All the actors are doing a good job, but the one who shines clearest, is after all Sean Penn. A very underrated person who is red-hot here. Michael J. Fox surprises as well in a serious role. "Casualties of War" loses some intensity in the end, but otherwise is it in the same class as the more famous war films "Platoon" and "Full Metal Jacket".

Kent Palmgren

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