Taps

"Very Good"

Taps Review


Thank goodness that Timothy Hutton didn't have the career of, let's say, Sean Penn or Tom Cruise. It would have been tough to stomach years of fragile acting, the kind that some might label "sensitive," but soon becomes annoying. It's a good thing the same semi-anonymous fate didn't befall Penn or Cruise (before he apparently lost his mind). Both of them have sizeable roles in Taps, a solid 1981 drama featuring then-recent Academy Award winner Hutton. Cruise and Penn, both relatively unknown at the time, provide Taps with the soul-searching gravity that propels it beyond hunks-with-guns fare.

Hutton plays Brian, a loyal student and rising senior at a prestigious military school. With the school on the verge of closing, Brian and his classmates bear arms so the school remains open. Things start off grandly, with the boys holding off the state police and standing for their principles. As the days pass and the stakes get higher, the students (some of whom aren't in their teens) unravel. Are they doing the right thing or are they sticking with a lost cause?

That question haunts Brian, who, while organizing a protest riddled with ethical dilemmas, has to contend with the influence of his military dad, the powerful words of the school's revered and controversial superintendent (George C. Scott, employing the right amount of piss and vinegar), and his own potential. If he gives up, then his future is suspect and years of sit-ups and pre-dawn wake-up calls mean nothing. His moral turmoil is represented by his best friend, Alex (Penn), whose obligation to Brian soon morphs into concern over a justified act gone too far. In the other corner is Shawn (Cruise), the leader of the "red" berets, who sees the standoff as a chance to carry a gun and use it with deadly intent.

If you ignore the teen-friendly cast, Taps provides a nice allegory on the military's limits. Order and discipline work well in a peaceful state except during a conflict; then it's exceedingly difficult to adapt. Some want order for forceful control, as seen with the grinning, merciless Shawn; others want it for a lengthy peace, as Alex does. With these ideas swirling around, Brian has an unbearable weight on his shoulders, and Hutton is perfect for the role. He has the string bean build, delicate features, and a voice that always sounds like it's an insult away from becoming a sob. In the movie's final moments, as dawn approaches and Brian has to make a life-altering decision, we know he will never be the same. And the same, sadly, could be said right now about the United States. Turns out Cruise and Penn aren't the only things relevant about Taps.

The new special edition DVD includes a making-of featurette, a vignette about the bugle call "Taps," and a commentary track from director Harold Becker.



Taps

Facts and Figures

Run time: 126 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th December 1981

Budget: $14M

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Howard B. Jaffe, Stanley R. Jaffe

Starring: George C. Scott as General Harlan Bache, as Cadet Major Brian Moreland, as Colonel Kerby, as Cadet Captain Alex Dwyer, as Cadet Captain David Shawn, Brendan Ward as Charlie Auden, as Edward West, John P. Navin, Jr. as Derek Mellott, Billy Van Zandt as Bug, as Cadet Captain J.C. Pierce, Donald Kimmel as Billy Harris, Timothy Wahrer as Cadet Major John Cooper, Tim Riley as Hulk, Jeff Rochlin as Shovel, Rusty Jacobs as Rusty

Also starring:

Contactmusic


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