Rob Reiner's 'A Few Good Men' is one of those films I've seen probably over thirty times. Not because it's a personal favorite. But because it seems to always be playing on TV. That's not such a bad thing. It's a good film with some intense court room scenes. It's also got Tom in full "Cruise Control". (you'll hear more about this in future reviews). But, lo and behold, it also has a suit-up scene.
The scene involves the great actor J.T. Walsh, who sadly died in 1998. The IMDB says that Walsh's trademark was for playing cowardly bad guys. For some reason, I feel compelled to dispute this out of some lame loyalty to an actor whom I enjoyed. But upon thinking of J.T.'s long career, I really can't. Every movie that comes to mind either has him as a bad guy, or as a cowardly bad guy. Wow.
'A Few Good Men' may be one of the few exceptions. By now, most of you reading this have probably seen the film. Hell, you can probably quote most of the climax scene between Cruise and Jack Nicholson. But for those who need a reminder: The film follows the trial of two marines who are being tried for murder for accidentally killing a fellow marine during a so-called initiation 'prank'.
Walsh plays Lt. Col. Matthew Andrew Markinson, second in charge to Jack Nicholson's character. We learn through the movie that Markinson is hiding something, and wants to desperately come clean. When he finally does, he becomes guilt-ridden by what he has let transpire on his baracks, under his command, and decides to take his own life.
So in essence, the suit-up scene in 'A Few Good Men' becomes special, at least in the long line of trademark characters J.T. Walsh has played, because it represents him doing what he feels is the honorable thing - not the cowardly thing - by blowing his brains out. The scene is voice-overed by Walsh writing an apologetic confessional letter to the victim's parents.
The suit-up itself is nothing special. It moves in a very cold, general sort of way. Perhaps that's its charm. It's almost like we are watching a man fold his laundry. Walsh's moves are precise. Without emotion. Even when he sticks the gun in his mouth, his face reveals no fear or regret. He's just a marine, doing his duty.