A Few Good Men is a scintillating courtroom drama largely thanks to a series of terrific performances by actors in the prime of their careers. The film features a murderer’s row of great actors – Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollak, Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, Cuba Gooding, Jr. – and the performances are universally great.
A Few Good Men, is the first film written by Aaron Sorkin, and it shows in the lack of his many tics and go-to movies. This is a good thing. As one of the more accomplished and respected screenwriters of the last two decades, Aaron Sorkin has become so in love with his own prose, his own style, that his films and television shows border on insufferable at times. Here, in his first screenplay, it’s much more restrained and subtle, peppering the unique style of dialogue he’s so known for throughout instead of overwhelming us. I do wonder how much of this comes from the influence of legendary Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman, who did a rewrite on this script before it was produced.
Though all of the actors here are great, Jack Nicholson’s performance as Colonel Nathan Jessup stands outs as particularly memorable. His intensity and fierceness puts him on another level here. Nicholson hasn’t had many memorable performances in the last twenty years (they’re there, but they’re few and far between), and so it’s kind of interesting to think that this performance may have been Nicholson’s last truly great performance on screen. Maybe he can still mount a comeback, but it seems unlikely at this point.
Overall, A Few Good Men holds up quite well.