So masterfully directed. De Palma applies many different techniques to tell his story, from stealthy stalking shots framed by binoculars to kind of ripping off Apocalypse Now's helicopter/fan transition with aplomb... It's all so tight. The script is pretty good too... shame it's so under watched compared to the likes of Platoon (which holds narrative similarities).
War is horrible; people at war show their craziest nastiest sides; the US of A has its heroes making it somewhat a bit better. I'd rather watch the Pilger documentary about vietnam for the same feel in a shorter and less melodramitic format ( Is she going to leave before private Cockwomble arrives? Is she? Is she now? )
Although pretty heavy-handed (from De Palma? never), and uneven in terms of the various performances, Casualties Of War is a solid watch, made riveting at times by the core idea and the polar opposite personalities on display, from Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox.
Marty McFly boards a magic train which transports him back to Vietnam in the late sixties where Biff (played here by Sean Penn) and his band of witless cronies, trading their ducktails and skateboards for crew cuts and assault rifles, get Marty riled up by calling him chicken. The planned finale of McFly whisking the Vietnamese damsel across a paddy field in a lightning storm was never shot.
A pigmy of a 'Nam movie among the giants of the type. Too slow, predictable and unlikely to make anyone want to enlist or even bother to frag their sarg. Redemptive ending probably cleared by the FBI, CIA and Mother's Union. Next time you see a weird guy on the Tube, worry...a lot.
Like being trapped in the nightmare of determinism - where all anyone can ever ask is "how could it be any different?" - this is a rousing if suspicious war drama. Rousing aesthetically, but morally dubious, with emphasis on Fox as a good guy trapped in bad circumstances, another victim of determinism. It's harrowing but not as effective as 'Redacted', which strips the story of stylistic sheen to hone viscerality.
I rewatch this film yesterday and i slightly change my opinion. I still think this is one of the worst films of de Palma, but is almost the opposite of Kubrick's work. The thing that i hate so much is Kubrick show power for itself and de Palma show how to affront this power. Nevertheless, "Casualties of War" seems to me a system film where all the good elements are suffocated.