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A Few Good Men: Special Edition

With a powerful script by political junkie Aaron Sorkin, able direction by Rob Reiner, and a talented cast of big-name stars led by Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, it's easy to see why A Few Good Men was a hit when it came out in 1992 — and why it's still a rock-solid viewing experience today. It starts off strong and finishes with a bang — and everything in the middle is sheer entertainment. Cruise is Lieutenant Danny Kaffee, a cocky, Harvard-educated Navy JAG lawyer who loves softball and lives in the shadow of his father, a famous trial attorney. When he's assigned to defend two Marines accused of murder for "disciplining" a platoon-mate, Kaffee's more than ready to chalk up another "win" in his long list of successful plea bargains. But when he starts looking beneath the surface, he discovers a conspiracy that reaches all the way to the highest ranks of the military. Spurred by fellow investigator Lt. Commander JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore, in an earnest performance), Kaffee decides to ignore the odds and make a stand, putting truth, honor, and justice on trial. Cruise comes into his own as Kaffee; along with his work in Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July, this role became the perfect bridge between his boyish parts in movies like Cocktail and Top Gun and more mature characters in films like Jerry Maguire. As always, Nicholson is a stand-out — his Colonel Nathan Jessup (who "eats breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans trained to kill me") is terrifyingly intense. Strong performances by the supporting cast, which includes Kevin Pollack, Kevin Bacon, J.T. Walsh, Kiefer Sutherland, James Marshall, and Wolfgang Bodsin (plus quick appearances by Cuba Gooding Jr., Christopher Guest, and a young Noah Wyle) also contribute a lot to the film, which is still one of the most riveting courtroom dramas ever made. Columbia TriStar's special edition disc (their second DVD release of the film) DVD does the movie justice: The anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) looks fantastic, and the digitally mastered DD 5.1 audio is great. Two featurettes — "Code of Conduct" and "From Stage to Screen with Aaron Sorkin and Rob Reiner" — offer interesting behind-the-scenes information and new interviews with several of the movie's actors. Reiner also steps up for a full-length commentary — unfortunately, it's fairly lackluster, with long periods of silence. Other extras include filmographies, scene selection, and a gallery of trailers. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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