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Platoon 1986 6592.jpg

Platoon is an acclaimed war-time movie written and directed by Oliver Stone based on his experiences as an American soldier in the Vietnam War. It was released in 1986 and won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The film follows a new recruit as he gets thrown into the humid, alien and deadly jungles of war and gives a frank look at the toll the war took on the men that fought, lived and died in the jungle. The main conflict is the murder of innocent civilians causing a rift in the platoon while our young recruit tries to find the correct thing to do in a war with ambiguous morals.

It is generally considered a milestone in war films in that the battles are far from glamorized and it is not afraid of showing just how hellish it can be; this makes it come closer to defeating Do Not Do This Cool Thing than many other films.

Platoon provides examples of:

  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: Many of the Vietnamese civillians.
  • Anyone Can Die: And at any moment, just like in war.
  • Asshole Victim: In the final battle, Bunny getting killed by a NVA soldier. And later on, Platoon leader Thomas Wolfe.
    • In general, most, if not, all of the soldiers (bar Chris and Elias) in the platoon might count. It's hard to root for or to feel sympathy for any of them after they attempted to massacre the Vietnamese villagers.
  • Backed by the Pentagon: Defied. The military refused to have anything to do with this film.
  • Big No: Chris shouts this just as Barnes is about to kill him during the final battle by the end of the movie.
  • Blood Knight: Barnes.
  • Booby Trap: Be careful opening that box of documents, guys.
    • The odd thing is, just before lifting the box, he was telling his comrade to be careful about where he stepped and what he touched because of... well, y'know. Why didn't he just grab the papers from within the box? The Idiot Ball, that's why.
  • Colonel Kilgore: Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Elias when he finds out what Barnes did at the village. So bad that even career soldiers thought it was over-the-top.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: One of the characters lights his cigarette from a villager's burning hut that the American soldiers have just torched.
  • Crucified Hero Shot
  • Death From Above: And below. And left, right, front, and back.
  • Downer Ending
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sergeant Barnes, before revealing himself as a killing machine.
  • Evil Counterpart / Foil: Elias and Barnes function as this; Chris even compares his conflict between the good and evil inside of him to their conflict.
  • Final Battle: And How!
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Barnes in Chris' hallucinogenic experience of the final battle.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Barnes has a nasty scar that zig-zags all up and down the right side of his face.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: In addition to the three main characters and a young Johnny Depp, the platoon's membership includes: Captain Anderson, Ricard Edson, Ghost Dog, and Corey Glover, vocalist form the band Living Color.
  • Jerkass: Any of the soldiers (excluding Chris and Elias, who look like absolute saints compared to the others, although hey, YMMV on them) that you might see in this movie were assholes from start to finish, especially Barnes, Bunny and Wolfe. And don't even start about the village scene where they interrogate the civilians in there.
  • Karmic Death: Barnes being "fragged" by Chris.
  • Licensed Game: A couple of them. Probably some of the least necessary film-to-game adaptations ever, given that the movie was demonizing the war. They at least tried to replicate the film's message in the NES game by giving you a "Morale" gauge which goes down when you kill innocents.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Elias.
  • The Messiah: Sgt. Elias Grodin.
  • My Girl Back Home: Complete with wallet picture and all.
  • Naive Newcomer: Chris, at first.
  • The Neidermeyer: Lieutenant Thomas Wolfe, the leader of the titular platoon. An incompetent coward who is unable to control his own soldiers, he lets Elias and Barnes do as they like (and the only order he gives is to burn down the village). US Army leadership classes have used Wolfe an example of how a junior officer should not behave.
  • New Meat: Chris, Gardner and Bunny.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Tragically inverted.
  • The Obi-Wan: Sgt. Elias Grodin, faster, stronger and more experienced than his student Chris.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: Elias (laid-back) and Barnes (aggressive). Stone based them on two different sergeants he knew while he was in Vietnam. They never met but Stone wondered what would happen if two men of such opposing viewpoints were in the same platoon.
  • Opposed Mentors: Wide-Eyed Idealist Chris is torn between two Sergeants about how he should conduct himself in Vietnam. As his closing monologue goes" The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called "possession of my soul".
  • Old Soldier: Most of the members of the platoon when Chris arrives, and eventually Chris becomes one himself.
  • Retirony: Subverted. After announcing that he's going home in a chopper in ten minutes with the final battle approaching, King (Keith David) actually does make it out alive.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: Subverted with Elias, a stoner with a relativist attitude to war who is still a badass and a more effective commander than Barnes.
    • Although to be fair, there is a literal party scene at one point, complete with joints and a "Tracks of My Tears" singalong.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Junior bolts for dear life when he realizes he and Bunny are completely overrun by the Viet Cong. He doesn't make it.
  • Sergeant Rock: Elias and Barnes, in their own ways.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Quite a few of them, though somewhat understandably so. Barnes would be the prime example.
  • Truth in Television / Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Ask any Vietnam veteran what the war was like.
    • The Really big fight at the end is based on the New Years Day Battle of 1968 that Stone lived through.
  • Unfriendly Fire: And more than once.
  • The Vietnam War: One of the definitive films about it.
  • War Is Hell
  • You Are in Command Now: Red O'Neill. Doubles as an Oh Crap.
  • Zerg Rush: The final attack of the NVA. Especially that one guy who runs straight into company command and suicide bombs it (taking the director with him).