Rolling Stone - 01/11/1990
"...Tom Cruise gives an astounding, deeply felt performance..."
New York Times - 12/20/1989
"...A film of enormous visceral power....[Cruise's performance] defines everything that is best about the movie..."
New York Times - 12/24/1989
Included in the New York Times "10 Best Films of 1989" List
USA Today - 01/05/1990
"...Cruise sets himself apart from the rest by proving with stunning ferocity that the most popular guy at the movies can also be a fine actor..."
Entertainment Weekly - 07/08/1994 Rating: B
Total Film - 10/01/1999
"...You'd be hard pressed to remain untouched by the trials of paralysed Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic....Gripping during the pre-war and combat sequences..."
Uncut - 08/01/2005
"This '89 epic features cameos from Kovic himself and anti-war legend Abbie Hoffman."
Set in the years between 1956 and 1976; Produced and released in 1989.
One of the best films made about the devastating impact of the Vietnam War on the body politic, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY is superbly executed by director Oliver Stone, who evokes what may be Tom Cruise's best performance as Vietnam vet Ron Kovic. Before the war starts, Kovic is a normal American kid, going to school, hanging out with his friends, and bagging groceries for pocket money. But as the Vietnam conflict begins to impact the lives of everyone around him, the patriotic teenager decides to enlist. Although his father (Raymond J. Berry) is not happy with his decision, his mother (Caroline Kava) could hardly be more enthusiastic. Once in combat, Kovic becomes disillusioned with his commanding officer (John Getz) who dismisses the fact that Kovic accidentally shot one of their own men in combat. Shortly thereafter, Kovic is paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet in the spine. He must begin a lengthy and excruciatingly painful rehabilitation, which includes a period in the shockingly negligent Bronx Veteran's Hospital. He finally returns to his hometown, now a confused, embittered, and alienated man. His family is also unsettled, unsure about how to deal with this very changed person. After a dissipated spree with other disabled vets like Charlie (Willem Dafoe), Kovic begins talking to antiwar activists like Donna (Kyra Sedgwick) and starts to reevaluate his thinking. In sum, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY is a deeply moving true account of the effects of war on its survivors.
Essential Cinema |
Personal Triumph |
Physically Impaired |
Theatrical Release |
True Story |
Theatrical release date: December 20, 1989.
Massapequa, New York, was represented by Dallas, Texas, in the film.
Incidentally, star Tom Cruise was born on the third of July.
Oliver Stone has been criticized for overly expressing his political views with this film. A small example is how Kovic and his vet pals are harshly rejected from a Republican rally but later, at a Democratic rally, they are warmly welcomed.