April 8, 2019  (Web Review)

Brothers in Arms

(2018) 89 min. DVD: $16.99, Blu-ray: $19.99. Gravitas Ventures (avail. from most distributors). Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

If this rather basic documentary of behind-the-scenes reminiscences about the film Platoon feels like soldiers’ war stories—talking-head sessions with actors Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, etc.—it’s due to a fairly good reason. While filming his Oscar-winning 1986 Vietnam drama in the Philippines, writer-director Oliver Stone also took his actors out of the NY/LA drama-studios and put them through boot camp under the technical adviser, Marine Capt. Dale Dye. Arduous, on-location shooting (when Dafoe got sick in the jungle, no A/C-equipped trailer was available) was done in sequence—so when characters were killed, Stone shipped “dead” actors home, thus simulating a survivor’s syndrome for those remaining. Filmmaker Paul Sanchez (who played “Doc” in the cast) never interviews Stone himself, but a near-complete reunion of the platoon-mates invokes a nice love-hate-respect composite portrait of the domineering and manipulative creator, who got the movie made in non-union, off-the-radar fashion. Brothers in Arms also serves as a reminder of the amazing casting: Sheen, Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Johnny Depp, Tony Todd, Keith David, John C. McGinley, Kevin Dillon, and others, who are all happy to share memories here. And there is a closing roll-call of actors (Francesco Quinn) and production personnel who have since died. Likely to appeal to film buffs, this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (C. Cassady)