Platoon (1986) is a war movie that mainly explores the psychology of
fear. The movie is too long and stereotyped.
The platoon is run by a rude but effective sergeant with a scar, Barnes, who often does not even consult with the commander. The only one who doesn't take orders from him is Elias, an experience and much more humane soldier. Barnes takes a few of the soldier with him for a mission in the jungle. Taylor is inexperienced and not very motivated. When the Vietnamese attack the camp, he is petrified and almost lets them surprise everybody. He gets a little scratch and almost faints.
Back to the barracks, he is assigned to humble chores, is initiated to drugs by Elias. Again in the jungle, they find one of them tortured by the vietnamese. Elias behaves like a native of the jungle. Later they stumble into a village. The Americans terrorize the peasants. Even Taylor loses his temper and terrorizes a young man who was hiding. The kid is half blind. Taylor breaks down. Another soldier smashes the skull of the kid and then jokes about it. The evil Barnes is interrogating a man when the wife intervenes and starts shouting. Barnes shoots her. The daughter of the dead woman starts screaming. Barnes grabs the child and threatens to shoot her too if the man does not talk. Elias arrives just in time and jumps on Barnes. The two fight like animals until the commander stops them and commands them to burn the village. The Americans leave the smoking ruins of the village. Back to the barracks, Elias wants Barnes courtmartialed, but the matter is postponed by the superiors. The groups splits in two: the animals who side with Barnes, and the humans who side with Elias.
The platoon falls in an ambush. The casualties are heavy and it rains. Taylor gets carried away. Elias is leading the charge. Barnes orders Taylor and the others to withdraw and promises to alert Elias. Elias is alone fighting the enemy like a lion, and Barnes is following him. Barnes shoots Elias who is smiling at him. Taylor, who sensed trouble, arrives too late: Barnes tells him that Elias is dead and that they have to leave. Everybody leaves on the helicopters, but as they are taking off they see one of their man running, chased by the vietnamese: it's Elias, still alive, who would have escaped if they had not taken off. Taylor tells the other soldiers what happened, that Barnes is responsible for Elias' death.
Then the real battle erupts. The vietcong overrun the Americans and massacre almost all of them. Even in the middle of the battle, Barnes proves to be an animal and almost kills Taylor. The Americans bomb the area to stop the advance of the vietcongs, and this saves Taylor's life. When he comes to life again, he is surrounded by corpses. He wanders through the mass of corpses until he finds Barnes, wounded but still alive. Taylor executes Barnes in cold blood. Taylor is one of the few survivors, is rescued by a patrol and is transported to a military hospital.
The villagers are petrified.
The two sergeants represent two different views of war. One is a crusader, an idealist who knows what the war is all about; the other is "reality", as he puts it: war's real face is an animal fight for survival and domination.
The vietcongs, whom would be the true enemies, remain anonymous, reduced to natural catastrophe, like the rains and the snakes. The true enemies, the ones with a face and a name, are within the platoon itself. It is within the platoon that the real war is fought, between a meaning of life and another.
Wall Street (USA 1987) e` ambientato nel mondo della borsa ed e` un atto d'accusa nei confronti del materialismo esasperato.