Platoon

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Platoon Movie Poster Image
Top war movie is intensely violent, full of strong language.
  • R
  • 1986
  • 120 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The overall message of this movie is that war is futile, and the Vietnam War was especially futile. Good people get killed and bad people survive. Good people do bad things. Nothing is solved. The hero finds his courage over the course of the movie, to a degree, but he also finds disgust and despair.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are complicated and sometimes good people do bad things, like the main character, Chris, who is generally a good person, but who becomes jaded and makes some bad decisions over the course of the film. There is a rivalry between Sgt. Barnes and Sgt. Elias; the former is the "evil" one, while the latter is a more kindly, more open-hearted figure.

Violence

This movie features brutal, up-close war violence, with guns and shooting, lots of blood, and many, many dead bodies. The movie puts us in the thick of battle, with explosions, screaming, and sheer terror as well as sheer adrenaline. American soldiers are seen beating up and committing other atrocities on Vietnamese people (i.e. raping, shooting, burning villages, etc.).

Sex

Some playful sexual innuendo in the dialogue.

Language

There is very strong, constant language here. "F--k" and "motherf--ker" are used quite often, as is "s--t," "p---y," and "c--ksucker." Other words include "dick," "hell," "son of a bitch," "ass," "asshole," "Goddamn," "bitch," "pecker," "faggot," and "Jesus Christ" and "for Christ's sake." Additionally, there are racial slurs like "gook."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some soldiers are likely older teens and most characters are seen smoking cigarettes and/or pot at some point. A few characters drink beers in one scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Oscar-winning war drama -- one of the most highly regarded Vietnam War movies -- is highly violent, powerful, and devastating. The violence is intense, with almost constant guns, blood, and dead bodies; soldiers also shoot and rape (mostly implied) Vietnamese characters, and burn a village. Language is likewise very strong, with almost constant use of "f--k," as well as heavy uses of words like "s--t" and "c--ksucker."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 July 20, 2015

Gritty war film doesn't skimp on realism

This Best Picture-winner has a great behind the scenes story. Oliver Stone put the entire cast through bootcamp to break them down and have them in the mindset... Continue reading
Adult Written byTHE MOVIE BUF!!!!! July 13, 2011

Alright

Very violent Rude language and more MA15+Strong violence coarse language and sexual content
Teen, 14 years old Written byFILMCRITIC500 January 5, 2013

a powerful, gripping, and ultra-violent Vietnam tale has constant swearing, drugs, sex talk, and atrocities

this violent, loud, and powerful war film is one of the best i have ever seen, but is also one of the most violent. it does have steely performances from Charli... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 5, 2012

Amazing movie

This movie is very powerful. I had watched Full Metal Jacket in the morning I saw it, so was expecting another gory but excellent movie. I got more than I barg... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 1967, wet-behind-the-ears solider Chris (Charlie Sheen) arrives in Vietnam, assigned to ground combat. He narrates his experiences in letters to his grandmother. In unrelated incidents, he faces many horrific situations, including exhaustion, fear, ennui, and the presence of constant death. He meets several other soldiers, including outcasts and misfits from every walk of life. Most notably, he meets two sergeants, the grizzled Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes in the war and in victory and will stop at nothing to get it, and the more kindly Elias (Willem Dafoe), who sees things a little less simply. Eventually these two inspire fighting within the ranks. Will Chris survive both the inner and outer conflicts?

Is it any good?

No war movie is truly an anti-war movie, but PLATOON comes close, and it's still as powerful as it was decades ago. Writer/director Oliver Stone based his movie on his own experiences and attempted to make a more realistic Vietnam movie, simpler and more grounded than things like Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter (and more ambitious than the Rambo movies) -- and he succeeds, truly making this war look like hell.

But at the same time he can't resist some of his more bombastic, operatic touches, such as the famous slow-motion death scene that was featured on the poster and in all the clips; and it's clear that Elias and Barnes represent something deeper and more timeless than mere sergeants in a specific war; they are the battle between good and evil, angels and devils. What's more, some of the climactic combat footage, lit by falling flares, is sublimely beautiful, and not as horrific as it wants to be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. How did it make you feel? How did the movie achieve this effect? How is this movie's violence different from other war movies?

  • What kind of statement is this movie making about war? Do you think this movie's message could translate to more modern wars?

  • What role do women play in this movie? Do you see any space where female characters could have played a larger role? Why do you think they are not there?

Movie details

For kids who love action

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