Review Date: March 17, 2001
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Oliver Stone, Zachary Sklar
Producers: Oliver Stone, A. Kitman Ho
Tommy Lee Jones
Would you believe that I'd never seen this movie before?! Youch! Yup, this was one of those films that I'd been putting off every other year, only because I wanted to be "in the right state of mind" and such, and last night, was finally that night. The DVD version of this film lasted approx. 3 1/2 hours and I was glued to the set the whole time.
For anyone living under a rock, this film basically charters the details of one Jim Garrison, district attorney's life, as he checks into the whole John F. Kennedy assassination plot. Did a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald commit the murder or was there a greater conspiracy? Well, if you've seen this movie, there should be no doubt left in your mind that DESPITE the film perhaps not proving anything outright, it certainly PROVED (to me at least) that there was NO WAY that only one dude could've commited the crime in question.
But the film's true power lies in its ability to entertain, fascinate, teach and absorb all in one sitting. The actors are all great, across the board, with special kudos going out to Costner as the lead, and Sutherland in a small co-starring role. The editing in this movie is outstanding, probably one of the better editing jobs of all time! I mean, you've basically got 3hours+ of people reading notes and comparing theories, and the whole thing is made extremely interesting because of the use of flashbacks, inserts, black and white footage, archival stuff, slow motion, voice-overs and pretty much everything else needed to transform this film from textbook to cinema.
And even though the whole story is DEFINITELY complicated, I don't think the precise understanding of every single detail of the film is the point of it all. The bottom line is that the movie is able to convey to us that something was amiss during these proceedings in the 1960s. That truth, justice and the American way had somehow been side-swiped by people who had their own agendas to worry about. That a great leader, a man who many saw as the second coming, a brilliant new strategist, unafraid to make changes in the status quo, was struck down before he could complete his legacy.
But even beyond that, as any film is generally supposed to do, this movie entertained! It kept me guessing, it was dramatic, it swayed back and forth, it brought through emotions, and it just made me feel like getting out there and getting some REAL SHIT done in the world!
In the end, the film is a classic, and that's despite Stone's apparent "fictionalized' moments and glitches here and there (it IS a movie after all, and I certainly didn't see it as a documentary).
All in all, I would totally recommend this to anyone who has yet to see it, but would warn you of its tremendous runtime, despite it not feeling long. And if you dig on political thrillers and such, then there shouldn't be any reason why this film isn't at the top of your "favorites" list in the first place.