"A Few Good Men"

Just saw, again, the 1992 film, “A Few Good Men.” Great cast. Interesting plot; in general, very well done. Then I realized, which I hadn’t done 13 years ago when first I saw it, that this film was a textbook case of Christian-bashing in the popular culture — although its first nominal target would appear to have been the gung-ho patriotism of the Corps.

It is nominally about a murder at our Marine Corps base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A murder that was officially ordered (“Code Red”, and not the Mountain Dew beverage). Rather, a disciplinary tool that was used on a Private Santiago which went horribly wrong and resulted in his death.

There are heroes — especially the lead counsel for the two Marines who stand accused of Santiago’s death — played by Tom Cruise, as an underachieving son of a late and apparently beloved civil-libertarian who was Attorney General. And then there are villians. Jack Nicholson as the evil and manipulating Col. Jessep, and Kiefer Sutherland, before he became the good-guy agent Jack Bauer, playing the despicable redneck Christian (as portrayed in the film, that is), Lieutenant Jonathan James Kendrick, a Marine lifer from Georgia.

The Kendrick character is portrayed as mean-spirited and a robot, caring only for excessively harsh discipline towards the men under his command. He is a common enough villian for the Hollywood elite (this film was directed by ultra-left Rob Reiner) — the patriot, the military man, portrayed as just plain nasty and uncaring. And, of course, portrayed as sucking up to his commanding officer (old and crude saying from the U.S. military: “Lick up; kick down”).

But consider these two bits of dialogue, obtained from the screen play. Both are spoken by Kendrick:

  • I believe in God, and in his son Jesus Christ, and because I do, I can say this: Private Santiago is dead and that’s a tragedy. But he’s dead because he had no code. He’s dead because he had no honor. And God was watching.
  • I have two books at my bedside, Lieutenant, the Marine Code of Conduct and the King James Bible. The only proper authorities I’m aware of are my Commanding Officer, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep and the Lord our God.

There you have a portrait of the young “Christian” officer: uncaring; unfeeling; as portrayed, a Bible-thumping troglodyte.

The problem is not that there aren’t such men. Sadly, there are. But here’s the problem in this movie: Kendrick is the only character who says anything about his religious faith. The character is not balanced by others who portray their faith and are seen as good in the movie. The movie is egregious in its bias against Christianity.

The message? Enjoy movies; but always be aware of their messages, especially those that portray so-called Christians in such a negative and one-sided light.

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2 comments

  1. Barbara · · Reply

    I have never seen the movie. But, as you said in your post, 13 years after seeing it the first time, you realize something about the film you didn’t back then. I’ve come to realize that, as the years go by, I’m more aware of some things than I used to be. It’s like things such as this just pop out at me.

  2. Marcus Brown · · Reply

    You’ll be amused to find out that “A Few Good Men” is based on a true story that took place in the mid-80s. The character played by Tom Cruise is based on a real-life Navy JAG named David Iglesias, who is now the U.S. Attorney for New Mexico and is a born-again Christian. He’s talked openly in interviews about his Christian faith being at the core of his practice of law.

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