Born on the Fourth of July (1989) - Rotten Tomatoes

Born on the Fourth of July1989

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)



Critic 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.

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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

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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 (48) | Top Critics (9)

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

June 6, 2008 | Full Review…

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

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
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

Signaled Oliver Stone's transition from iconic commentator to tremulous anarchist.

October 17, 2002 | Rating: 91/100

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

May 12, 2001

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

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Born on the Fourth of July


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 roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


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 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.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


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 makes 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

Martin Sahlin
Martin Sahlin

Super Reviewer

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