Platoon ★★★★

Oliver Stone’s semiautobiographical Oscar winner kick-started his Vietnam trilogy and remains one of the most well regarded war films in American cinema. Following in his father’s footsteps, a competent if not always entirely convincing Charlie Sheen leads a stellar cast also including Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, and Forest Whitaker. The hideousness of warfare and the way it dehumanises those forced to carry out its atrocities is the film’s primary focus, with Sheen the audience surrogate helplessly narrating his adventures and the horrors he witnesses. Dafoe is on Oscar-nominated form as a soldier who maintains his compassion despite all he sees and does, preventing his fellow men from giving in to the animalistic tendencies warfare breeds within them. Stone’s message may be simple, but the convincing power with which he conveys it is undeniable; despite a handful of storytelling issues and a rocky lead performance, Platoon remains an affectingly genuine war movie.