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Tom Cruise, Raymond J. Barry, Caroline Kava, Kyra Sedgwick, Willem Dafoe ... see more see more... , Brian Larkin , Jerry Levine , Josh Evans , Jamie Talisman , Anne Bobby , Frank Whaley , John Getz , David Warshofsky , Rocky Carroll , Cordelia González , Tony Frank , Jayne Haynes , Claudio Brook , Robert Camilletti , Reg E. Cathey , Dale Dye , Corky Ford , Bob Gunton , Ed Jupp Jr. , James LeGros , Eduardo Ricardo , Jenna von Oÿ , Christopher Walker , Seth Allen , Sean Stone , Samantha Larkin , Erika Geminder , Amanda Davis , Kevin Harvey Morse , Jessica Prunell , Jason Klein , Lane R. Davis , Richard Panebianco , John Pinto , J.R. Nutt , Stephen Baldwin , Philip Amelio , Michael McTighe , Cody Beard , Ryan Beadle , Harold Woloschin , Richard Grusin , Tom Berenger , Richard Haus , Melvin Allen , Ed Lauter , Liz Moore , Sean McGraw , Oliver Stone , Norma Moore , Stacey Moseley , Michael Miller , Ellen Pasternack , Joy Zapata , Bob Tillotson , Jason Gedrick , Michael Compotaro , Paul Abbott , Bill Allen , William Baldwin , Claude Brooks , Michael Smith Guess , William Mapother , Christopher W. Mills , Byron Minns , Ben Wright , Markus Flanagan , R.D. Call , John Falch , Dan Furnad , Fred Geise , Greg Hackbarth , Sami Chester , Willie Minor , David Herman , Bruce MacVittie , Damien Leake , David Neidorf , Paul Sanchez , Richard Lubin , Norm Wilson , Peter Benson , Sergio Scognamiglio , Billie Neal , Richard Poe , Vivica A. Fox , Mark Moses , Abbie Hoffman , Jake Weber , Edie Brickell , Geoff Garza , Joseph P. Reidy , Holly Marie Combs , Daniel Baldwin , Frank Cavestani , Eagle Eye Cherry , Peter Crombie , John Del Regno , Edith Diaz , John William Galt , Frank Girardeau , Elizabeth Hoffman , Lucinda Jenney , Jodi Long , Ivan Kane , Wayne Knight , Andrew Lauer , Rick Masters , Gale Mayron , Annie McEnroe , Jack McGee , John C. McGinley , Chris Pederson , Begonia Plaza , Tom Sizemore , Beau Starr , Mike Starr , Brian Tarantina , Lili Taylor , Michael Wincott , Ron Kovic , Alan Toy , Réal Andrews , Lisa Barnes , David Carriere , Michelle Hurst , Elbert Lewis , Kevin McGuire , Chip Moody , Lorraine Morin-Torre , Pamela S. Neill , Karen Newman , Ken Osborne , Kristel Otney , Jimmy L. Parker , Anthony Pena , Chuck Preiffer , Melinda Ramos Renna , Keri Roebuck , Michael Sulsona , William A. Wallace , Don 'The Dragon' Wilson , William Hubbard Knight

The second of three films by co-writer/director Oliver Stone to explore the effects of the Vietnam War (Platoon and Heaven and Earth are the others), Born On The Fourth Of July tells the true story of... read more read more... Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise), a patriotic, All-American small town athlete who shocks his family by enlisting with the Marines to fight in the Vietnam War. Once he is overseas, however, Kovic's gung-ho enthusiasm turns to horror and confusion when he accidentally kills one of his own men in a firefight. His downfall is furthered by a bullet wound that leaves him paralyzed from the chest down. He returns home, spends an appalling, nightmarish stint in a veterans' hospital, and follows an increasingly disillusioned and fragmented path that ultimately leaves him drunk and dissolute in Mexico. However, Kovic somehow turns himself around and pulls his life together, becoming an outspoken anti-war activist in the process. The film is long but emotionally powerful; many consider it Stone's best work and Cruise's best performance. Both were nominated for Oscars, as was the film itself, but only Stone, who co-wrote the film with Kovic from the latter's book, won for Best Director. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

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76% liked it

58,267 ratings


90% liked it

39 critics

R, 2 hr. 24 min.

Directed by: Oliver Stone

Release Date: December 20, 1989

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DVD Release Date: April 28, 1998

Stats: 2,033 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (2,033)

  • July 7, 2012
    Born on the Fourth of July is a solid, well acted and brilliantly directed Anti war film. Based on the true story of Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic, who due to a wound, became paralyzed. Through years of struggle, Kovic finally was able to get his life back on track and become an ... read moreanti war activist along the way. Tom Cruise gives a great performance as Kovic. This is a stunning film that is an eye opening viewing, and Oliver Stone did a great job here. This is one of his finest films, and this is a great departure from his previous Vietnam War film, Platoon, which is hands down Stone's greatest work. However with this film, he crafts a masterful film yet again, and captures a totally different side of the Vietnam War struggle, in part the struggle that many Vietnam War veterans had to endure when coming home from the war. This is a great film with a powerful story, and you see it through Ron Kovic's eyes as he became disillusioned afterwards, and how he dealt with it, and ultimately redeemed himself by becoming a voice for the anti war movement. The performances are great and the story is enthralling and this is a must see for even war film fans. This is a superb film that is among Stone's strongest directorial efforts. Tom Cruise is terrific in the part, and this is actually one of many of his best performances. This is a superb film that is powerful and thought provoking. With a great cast and a captivating story, Born on the Fourth of July is a must see for film fans.
  • June 10, 2012
    This is the second film in Oliver Stone's trilogy about the Vietnam War, and for this one, he decided to adapt (along with Ron Kovic), Kovic's autobiography about his life, and how he went from proud and patriotic all-American to crippled war veteran who became a fervent anti-war... read more protestor. And you know what? This film really is terrific. Yes, it has IMPORTANT stamped all over it, and sure, it is emotionally manipulative and takes a very "damned if you do, damned if you don't" stance towards the experiences of veterans, but we need stuff like this, and it is a very welcome voice in the debate about the experiences of Vietnam veterans and how one's whole life can be shattered and changed once they experience unimaginable horrors and return home to a country that changed so drastically in just a short amount of time.

    This is all very fascinating stuff, and, despite the polemic nature of things, it is well done, and even though a bias is present, all sides do get some sort of representation, so the film isn't quite on the same level as something by Michael Moore for example.

    Kovic was and is a very proud American, and yes, the film proves you can still be very patriotic even if you're anti-war. It's really a good blend of character study and philosophy, and that wasn't something I was expecting. It's also not nearly as heavy handed as I was expecting, though it is very heavy with the sentimentality, especially where John Williams's (solid) score and the cinematography (everything is shot in filters of either red, white, or blue depending on the emotional level or context of things) are concerned.

    The cast that Stone rounded up is quite notable too. There's tons of recognizable names present, even if many of them have no more than just a few moments or even a couple of lines of dialogue. The big roles are cast wonderfully though, featuring the likes of Kyra Sedgwick, Willem Dafoe, Raymond J. Barry, and Tom Cruise in the lead as Kovic. This was the first time Cruise tried for something dramatic, serious, and very challenging. Not only did he pull it off, but this is still one of his all time best performances. You know, the kind which prove he really can act.

    There's lots of great moments throughout, and they all are at different emotional levels. Two that really stick out for me however, are scenes that are dramatic (and are supposed to be), but still managed to unintentionally be hilarious as well. Those two scenes are the argument/breakdown where Ron screams profanities and the word penis loudly at his mother while drunk, and the wheelchair fight between Cruise and Dafoe. I felt kinda bad laughing, but I really just couldn't help it.

    No matter your opinions on Cruise, Stone, or the subject matter, you really should give this one a watch. It is designed to provoke all sorts of reactions, and though it is unapologetic in its presentation, it is a worthy and remarkable film.
  • February 12, 2012
    This is some fine directing right here from Mr. Political Subject himself. This movie uses one of the oldest tricks in the book for dramatic effect....Slowmotion....and it does it really well. Tom does possibly his best role here? And it's a very interesting story. Willem Dafoe m... read moreakes a brief but oscar worthy apperence. There are a lot of very beautiful shoots in this movie. Escpecially that first shoot after we cut to the war. That is just iconic. This movies story draws many similarities to The Deer Hunter but it's still very diffrent and uniqe. A really good movie and a great work by Tom Cruise
  • May 29, 2011
    Cruise pulls out all the stops in his visceral portrayal of a guy who goes from trusting and unthinking patriot to wounded and wondering casualty of the Vietnam War. Certainly one of the very best of this genre, it's core point simply a question : when has blind obedience ever b... read moreeen an American ideal?
  • April 19, 2011
    A biopic based on the life of Ron Kovic, an idealistic poster boy for the American dream who volunteered for Vietnam only to return home to a different world both traumatized and paralysed. I've never been a big fan of Tom Cruise, but he gives the performance of his career as the... read more Vietnam vet who became the spokesman of a disenfranchised generation. Being based upon Kovic's own book the film is a very personal journey and as such is a little episodic, often resembling one of those "triumph of courage" daytime telemovies rather than the overt politicism of many of Stone's other films of the time. It also limits his Vietnam experiences to the bare minimum which means that it lacks both the context and outright anger of Salvador and the emotional drama of Platoon leaving something of a half way house between the two. The supporting cast also don't get much of a look in so it feels a little superficial but it is an intelligent, well made film carried by a strong central performance. It does lack the power of Stone's best work however.
  • November 29, 2010
    This is without a doubt my favorite Oliver Stone movie. It has all of the passion and and emotional depth in ten minutes that most Vietnam movies try to attain for 2 hours. Tom Cruise played an amazing Ron Kovic, you were able to see the entire breakdown and redemption of his cha... read moreracter. I loved the message of the movie, it wasn't so much about action and physical damage of the war. It was about the complete destruction of hope for so many individuals. It's so heartbreaking to see such a good person have to suffer through so much.
  • September 24, 2009
    A more honest account this time from Stone which shows the brutal reality of the Vietnam war, it?s far superior to Platoon. Possibly the only time I think Cruise has really been great!
  • March 3, 2009
    Some movies act like a microcosm of history. They take one little part of an enormous picture and use it to show how the little piece of the big picture affected each other.

    With Born on the Fourth of July Oliver Stone shows us how gung-ho America was going into the Vietnam war ... read moreand how that conflict affected millions of lives by looking at one life in that war: Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise). The film opens with the youngster Kovic watching a Fourth of July parade in the 1950's that reeks of apple pie and Eisenhower. Kids played soldier in the woods to mimic their dads and uncles stories from Europe in the decade before. Jump ahead to Kovic near graduation and deciding to join the Marines. He is still gung ho and ready to die for his country in a war in Vietnam that will be "over before we get there". He goes to Vietnam where two tragic events change his life forever in which one of them is taking a NVA bullet that renders him paralyzed from the chest down. He returns to a different America, polarized by the war and finds himself slowly seeing that the war wasn't as honorable as he thought it was.

    Tom Cruise finally got some respect from this film, proving that he could be more than the guy in his underwear dancing to Bob Seger or flying airplanes. By his return home he is a beaten man and it shows in his appearance. To me, this is Tom Cruise's first great performance. The remainder of the film from his return is mainly Stone showing Kovic's reaction to the turmoil that was the late '60's and the early '70's. The film shouts at us that this is how a million people reacted to it by looking at this one, lone man. It's a fascinating journey that Stone takes us on with ups and downs and the resentments and triumphs that go along with it. A terrific biopic.
  • June 25, 2008
    Actually the story was pretty good, a story about a Vietnam veteran soldier because of the war.. Tom Cruise brilliantly portrait Ron Kovic, the young soldier with great ambition for the Vietnam war but yet he got wound in the war so he become a Vietnam veteran soldier in such a ... read moreyoung age... This movie really describes how awful the war is... But, since I watched the cut version of this movie, so I'm not too understand with this movie... Even that, Tom Cruise shows his great talent at that time... And now, he should be disappointed knowing in his success as a celebrity, he didn't get an Oscar for his acting..
  • May 20, 2008
    This movie based on a true story,was the best film. It was shocking and very sad,and was wonderfully made!!!

Critic Reviews

Variety Staff
June 6, 2008
Variety Staff, Variety

Tom Cruise, who takes Kovic from clean-cut eager teen to impassioned long-haired activist, is stunning. Full Review

June 24, 2006
Time Out

A compelling, elegiac film, particularly encouraging after the simplified morality of Platoon. Full Review

Vincent Canby
May 20, 2003
Vincent Canby, New York Times

Born on the Fourth of July is...the most ambitious nondocumentary film yet made about the entire Vietnam experience. Full Review

Peter Travers
May 12, 2001
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Stone has found in Cruise the ideal actor to anchor the movie with simplicity and strength.

Hal Hinson
January 1, 2000
Hal Hinson, Washington Post

This is an impassioned movie, made with conviction and evangelical verve. It's also hysterical and overbearing and alienating. Full Review

Desson Thomson
January 1, 2000
Desson Thomson, Washington Post

Stone has created a film whose overblown parts add up to far less than the epic whole he had in mind. Full Review

Roger Ebert
January 1, 2000
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Nothing Cruise has done will prepare you for what he does in Born on the Fourth of July. Full Review

Matt Brunson
August 8, 2012
Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

Not counting his iconic themes for such blockbusters as Star Wars and Jaws, this might feature John Williams' best music score to date. Full Review

Brian Orndorf
July 4, 2012
Brian Orndorf,

An exceptional feature on every level of execution, also displaying a rare sensitivity to Stone that he would spend the rest of his career trying to bury in violence and experimentation. Full Review

Kelly Kessler
January 2, 2011
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media

Unflinching story of Vietnam vet turned activist. Full Review

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    • Donna: I got a face like a rotting pumpkin.
    • Ron Kovic: F*** You, Willie.
    • Ron Kovic: Well, I love America.
    • Ron Kovic: People say that if you don't love America, then get the hell out.
    • Ron Kovic: Penis! Penis!
    • Mrs. Kovic: Don't say penis in this house!
    • Ron Kovic: PENIS!
    • Ron Kovic: It's my leg! I want my leg, you understand? Can't you understand that? All's I'm sayin' is that I want to be treated like a human being! I fought for my country! I am a Vietnam veteran! I fought for my country!

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Born on the Fourth of July Trivia

  • Which 1989 Oliver Stone movie was based on the life of Ron Kovic?  Answer »
  • "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) is a story of a man, Ron Kovic, paralyzed in the Vietnam war, who goes on to become an anti-war activist. Who played him?  Answer »
  • Tom Cruise has been nominated for 3 oscars.But what is the name of the Movies he has been nominated?  Answer »
  • Tom Cruise nominated the Oscar the first time from... ?  Answer »

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