Taps (1981)

Director: Harold Becker

Writer: Darryl Ponicsan, Robert Mark Kamen (Screenplay) Devery Freeman (Novel)

Starring: George C Scott, Timothy Hutton, Ronny Cox, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise


Plot: Military cadets take extreme measures to insure the future of their academy when its existence is threatened by local condo developers.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Good Little 80’s Movie


Story: Taps starts as we meet our Military Cadets with Cadet Major Brian Moreland (Hutton) getting the promotion to this rank for his final year at the academy from General Harlan Bache (Scott). Bache informs the students this will be their final year before the academy is going to be knocked down for development.

When there is an altercation outside the grounds Bache accidently kills a young civilian. The consequences of this are that the base is going to close early but Moreland brings together the cadets with his Captains Alex Dwyer (Penn) and David Shawn (Cruise) to hold the base so they can have their final year and prove the academy is important for the community.


Thoughts on Taps


Characters – General Harlan Bache runs the military academy, he has done for years and enjoys developing the next generation of soldiers, when he is accidently involved in a shooting of a civilian he is removed from the base ending up in hospital. Cadet Major Brian Moreland leads the cadets, he was handpicked by the General and once the General is off the base, he leads the defence of the base from the incoming developers. Cadet Captain Dwyer is the closest friend Moreland has on the base and does clash with Shawn at time over clash of styles. Cadet Captain David Shawn is the fellow captain that is determined to prove the cadets can handle themselves, he acts quicker than Dwyer which leads to their tension at times.

PerformanceThe performances are great throughout, George Scott is your big name draw for the time and is good in his role, with Timothy Hutton here right after his Oscar win that is great throughout. Tom Cruise and Sean Penn both show their skills in the supporting role where they easily becoming big stars.

StoryThe story does follow the cadets who look to defend their school after an accident that is about to be getting closed. It shows how they were trained to handle themselves and stand up for what they believe in a bigger cause than themselves. It does have moments where you think it is a kids movie but the reality war is never just this tone and you also couldn’t see both sides fighting for what is mostly property.

SettingsMost of the film is set at the academy which shows how the young men worked together to stand up for what could build on a generation of future soldiers.

Scene of the Movie – Escape the locals.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This does seem like fighting for almost nothing, even if it is mostly tactical building up to a potential battle.

Final ThoughtsThis film shows us three young talented actors who all went onto bigger project in a film which shows the meaning behind being a solider from a young age, working together and understanding when to stand up for something you believe in.


Overall: Good drama showing us plenty of military tactics.





Domestic Disturbance (2002)

logoDirector: Harold Becker

Writer: Lewis Colick (Screenplay) Lewis Colick, William S Comanor, Gary Drucker (Story)

Starring: John Travolta, Matt O’Leary, Teri Polo, Vince Vaughn, Steve Buscemi


Plot: A divorced father Frank Morrison (Travolta) discovers that his ex-wife Susan (Polo) new husband Rick Barnes (Vaughn) is not who he claims to be. To protect his son Danny (O’Leary) Frank must uncover the truth before it is too late.


Verdict: Thriller close to home

Story: On paper this sounds like another version of ‘The Stepfather’ and in a way it is. Instead of just being the child’s struggle against the evil stepfather we also see the father’s struggle to prove who he really is. The build-up also includes the idea the child is a well-known liar when things don’t go his way. All this comes together to make a good story but one that really will be on that doesn’t stick in the memory. (7/10)


Actor Review: John Travolta – Frank Danny’s father who wants to just stand back at let his ex-wife move on but after Danny witness something he can’t rest until he knows the truth. Solid performance from Travolta which is the best of the lot. (8/10)


Actor Review: Vince Vaughn – Rick the new stepfather with a secret he is trying to keep safe but once it gets exposed he tries everything in his power to keep it quiet. Vince had a tendency to play villainous roles before he became the wise cracking funny man he is now and this shows he can pull it off. (8/10)


Actor Review: Matt O’Leary – Danny the young boy who is the centre of all the trouble in the film, lies to stop something happening he doesn’t like and never really dealt with his parents’ divorce. Good performance from the young star showing he can stand toe to toe with bigger name actors. (8/10)


Actor Review: Teri Polo – Susan Danny’s mother who remarries but fails to see through him until it is too late. Good performance as the character would have to fall for all of Rick’s charm. (7/10)


Director Review: Harold Becker – Good direction but the final fight is a bit too dark to be effective. (7/10)


Crime: Watching how reluctant the cops are to help the situation shows how poor they are to the crime story. (6/10)

Thriller: It feels very edge of seat from the moment we learn about Rick’s past but never pulls in all it could. (8/10)

Believability: It would be scary as it could be real but not as far as it is. (3/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Settings: The settings used as good but don’t add enough to the story. (8/10)

Suggestion: it is a short thriller so it could be enjoyed by most as it wouldn’t take up much of your time. It is easy enough to watch too. (Try It)


Best Part: The end is good.

Worst Part: The cops.

Trivia: Vince Vaughn, Steve Buscemi were involved in a bar brawl during the filming.

Oscar Chances: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Similar Too: The Stepfather


Overall: Thriller that will hit hard at home

Rating 72

Harold Becker