Born on the Fourth of July

1989

Born on the Fourth of July

Critics Consensus

Led by an unforgettable performance from Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July finds director Oliver Stone tackling thought-provoking subject matter with ambitious élan.

87%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 45

76%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 59,303
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Movie Info

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 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

Cast

Tom Cruise
as Ron Kovic
Caroline Kava
as Mrs. Kovic
Brian Larkin
as Young Ron
Willem Dafoe
as Charlie
Bryan Larkin
as Young Ron
Josh Evans
as Tommy Kovic
Stephen Baldwin
as Billy Vorsovich
Seth Allen
as Young Tommy
Jamie Talisman
as Jimmy Kovic
Sean Stone
as Young Jimmy
Anne Bobby
as Susanne Kovic
Jenna von Oÿ
as Young Susanne
Samantha Larkin
as Patty Kovic
Erika Geminder
as Young Patty
Tom Berenger
as Recruiting Sergeant
Amanda Davis
as Baby Patty
Kevin Harvey Morse
as Jackie Kovic
Jessica Prunell
as Young Donna
Jason Klein
as Young Timmy
Lane R. Davis
as Young Steve
John Pinto
as Young Joey
Robert Camilletti
as Tommy Finnelli
J.R. Nutt
as Young Tommy
Philip Amelio
as Young Billy
Michael McTighe
as Danny Fantozzi
Cody Beard
as Young Danny
Ryan Beadle
as Ballplayer
Mel Allen
as Mel Allen
Ed Lauter
as Legion Commander
Liz Moore
as Fat Lady at Parade
Sean McGraw
as Young Donna's Father
Oliver Stone
as News Reporter
Dale Dye
as Infantry Colonel
Norma Moore
as Massapequa Mom
Stacey Moseley
as Young Donna's Friend
Bob Tillotson
as Truck Driver
John Getz
as Marine Major
David Warshofsky
as Lieutenant
Jason Gedrick
as Martinez
R.D. Call
as Chaplain
Melvin Allen
as Himself
Billie Neal
as Nurse Washington
Richard Poe
as Frankie
Abbie Hoffman
as Strike Organizer
Jake Weber
as Donna's Boy Friend
Edie Brickell
as Folksinger
Keri Roebuck
as Loudspeaker
Geoff Garza
as Young Radical
Joseph Reidy
as Student Organizer
Cordelia González
as Maria Elena
Anthony Pena
as Bartender
Eduardo Ricardo
as Cab Driver
Tony Frank
as Mr. Wilson
Jayne Haynes
as Mrs. Wilson
Lili Taylor
as Jamie Wilson
Elbert Lewis
as Cab Driver
Peter Crombie
as Undercover Vet
Chuck Preiffer
as Secret Service Agent
Chip Moody
as TV Anchor
William Knight
as Chief Cop
Begonia Plaza
as Charlie's Whore [Villa Dulce]
David Carriere
as Miami Hippie
John William Galt
as Fat Republican
Jack McGee
as Democratic Delegate
Richard Haus
as Recruiting Sgt. Bowers
Mike Miller
as Neighbor
Ron Kovic
as Veteran at Parade (uncredited)
Joy Zapata
as Neighbor
Paul Abbott
as Platoon - Vietnam
Bill Allen
as Platoon - Vietnam
Bill Baldwin
as Platoon - Vietnam
Claudio Brook
as Platoon - Vietnam
Michael Smith Guess
as Platoon - Vietnam
James Le Gros
as Platoon - Vietnam
William Mapother
as Platoon - Vietnam
Christopher W. Mills
as Platoon - Vietnam
Byron Minns
as Platoon - Vietnam
Ben Wright
as Platoon - Vietnam
John Falch
as Corpsman - Vietnam
Dan Furnad
as Corpsman - Vietnam
Fred Geise
as Corpsman - Vietnam
Greg Hackbarth
as Corpsman - Vietnam
Don 'The Dragon' Wilson
as Corpsman - Vietnam
Sami Chester
as Aide #2 - VA Hospital
Chris Pedersen
as Aide #3 - VA Hospital
Chris Walker
as Aide #4 - VA Hospital
Dave Herman
as Patient - VA Hospital
Bruce MacVittie
as Patient - VA Hospital
Damien Leake
as Patient - VA Hospital
David Neidorf
as Patient - VA Hospital
Paul Sanchez
as Patient - VA Hospital
Richard Lubin
as Patient - VA Hospital
Norm Wilson
as Patient - VA Hospital
Peter Benson
as Patient - VA Hospital
Sergio Scognamiglio
as Patient - VA Hospital
Bob Gunton
as Doctor #1 - VA Hospital
Mark Moses
as Optimistic Doctor - VA Hospital
Mike Starr
as Man #1
Beau Starr
as Man #2 - Arthur's Bar
John Del Regno
as Friend #1 - Arthur's Bar
Gale Mayron
as Friend #2 - Arthur's Bar
Lisa Barnes
as Friend #3 - Arthur's Bar
Tom Sizemore
as Vet - Villa Dulce
Ivan Kane
as Vet #6
Ed Jupp Jr.
as Villa Vet
Kevin McGuire
as Paraplegic #1
Ken Osborne
as Paraplegic #2
Alan Toy
as Paraplegic #3
Kristel Otney
as Woman #1
Jodi Long
as Reporter #1
Michelle Hurst
as Reporter #2
John C. McGinley
as Official #1
Wayne Knight
as Official #2
Elizabeth Hoffman
as Passerby #1
Lucinda Jenney
as Passerby #2
Annie McEnroe
as Passerby #4
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News & Interviews for Born on the Fourth of July

Critic Reviews for Born on the Fourth of July

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (6)

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

    Jun 6, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • A compelling, elegiac film, particularly encouraging after the simplified morality of Platoon.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Born on the Fourth of July is...the most ambitious nondocumentary film yet made about the entire Vietnam experience.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3.5
  • Stone has found in Cruise the ideal actor to anchor the movie with simplicity and strength.

    May 12, 2001
  • This is an impassioned movie, made with conviction and evangelical verve. It's also hysterical and overbearing and alienating.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Stone has created a film whose overblown parts add up to far less than the epic whole he had in mind.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Born on the Fourth of July

  • Jan 10, 2018
    One of Cruise's best and bravest performances, the fantastically directed Born on the Fourth of July is a tribute to veterans, America and Ron Kovic, whilst also being a huge compliment and showcase of the talents of Tom Cruise and Oliver Stone. The best of Oliver Stone's war trilogy.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 05, 2013
    The ending feels rushed and unearned, which is a shame because the rest of the movie is a sad, slow examination of the collapse of patriotic idealism. Stone probably sees a piece of himself in Ron Kovic, which is why a lot of the beginning feels so personal. I'm the first to admit Cruise's weaknesses as an actor, but this is a unusually strong performance from him.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 21, 2013
    Director Oliver Stone continues his exploration of Vietnam in the biopic Born on the Fourth of July. Based on an autobiography the story follows Ron Kovic, who enlisted in the Marines to fight in Vietnam, but is paralyzed during a firefight and comes home to an America that he doesn't understand. Starring Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe, and Stephen Baldwin, the cast is quite formidable. While Cruise delivers an impressive performance, the script fails film and has trouble capturing the transformation of Kovic from a jingoistic veteran to a leader in the anti-Vietnam War movement. Born on the Fourth of July has some compelling and dramatic character moments, but it doesn't come together as a cohesive story.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 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 anti 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.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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