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Film / Platoon

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"Somebody once wrote: 'Hell is the impossibility of reason'. That's what this place feels like. Hell. I hate it already and it's only been a week."
Private Chris Taylor

Platoon is an acclaimed war film written and directed by Oliver Stone based on his experiences as an American soldier in The Vietnam War. It was released in 1986 and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This is also his first film about the war, followed by Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth. These three films are often said to form a "trilogy", although they merely share subject matter and do not take place in a shared continuity.

The film follows a new recruit named Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) as he gets thrown into the humid, alien and deadly jungles of war and gives a frank look at the toll the war took on the men that fought, lived and died in the jungle. The main conflict is the murder of innocent civilians causing a rift in the platoon while Chris tries to find the correct thing to do in a war with ambiguous morals. Willem Dafoe plays Sergeant Elias Grodin, the platoon's moral compass and Taylor's first mentor, while Tom Berenger plays Elias' counterpart, Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes, the platoon's merciless, combat-loving driving force.

It is generally considered a milestone in war films in that the battles are far from glamorized and it is not afraid of showing just how hellish it can be; this makes it come closer to defeating Do Not Do This Cool Thing than many other films.

The film is especially notable for debuting a mountain of actors who would later become Household Names. Keith David plays King, a heavy gunner and Taylor's other mentor. John C. McGinley plays O'Neill, another sergeant and Barnes' smarmy, unlikable second-in-command. Mark Moses plays Lt. Wolfe, the cowardly nominal leader of the platoon who mostly just scuttles meekly after Barnes. Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, and a 23-year-old Johnny Depp all play supporting soldiers in the platoon.

Not to be confused with Splatoon.

This film provides examples of:

  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: Many of the Vietnamese civilians.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The village the platoon burns down is almost certainly being used as a supply cache for the Vietcong, but how willing the villagers were to do it (or if they had a say at all, even) is left up in the air.
  • Anyone Can Die: And at any moment, just like in war.
  • Armies Are Evil: Both the US and Vietnamese soldiers perpetuate atrocities against civilians and each other.
  • Asshole Victim: Junior and/or Bunny dying is surely the happiest moment in the movie for some. Taylor fragging Barnes also counts.
  • Author Avatar: Basically, Chris is Oliver Stone. Like Chris, Oliver Stone came from the upper class (his father was a stockbroker) and like Chris, Stone dropped out of college (Yale) to volunteer to fight in Vietnam. His commentary on the film reveals that just about everything is taken from his time in Vietnam, and he occasionally talks like he really is the character.
  • Ax-Crazy: Whenever Taylor snaps, he becomes this.
  • Badass Boast:
    Barnes: Oh, you wanna kick ass. Yeah. Well, here I am, all by my lonesome. And there ain't nobody gonna know. Six of you boys against me. Kill me. ... [beat]... I shit on all of you.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In a sense, since even though Barnes pays for murdering Elias in the end, he successfully goads Chris into killing him, in keeping with his ethos that conflict is the true nature of man. Chris rejects this philosophy at the end, but also states that Barnes will always be a part of him the same as Elias will be.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: While patrolling the village, Bunny shoots an innocent pig for no good reason.
  • Big "NO!": Chris shouts this just as Barnes is about to kill him during the final battle by the end of the movie.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Chris survives the war and goes home, but he doesn't really escape the consequences of the war.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Subverted; most of the platoon's black members were either wounded or came back home. and only a few of them killed. Warren was the first to go.
    • King manages to survive multiple death flag tropes such as Mentor Occupational Hazard and Retirony, and makes it home safe and in one piece right before the final battle wipes out most of what remains of the platoon.
    • Francis is also one of the few to survive the NVA assault on the base.
  • Blood Knight: Barnes is a frightening example. Very frightening example.
    • Bunny as well, although he's in it more for the killing than the glory.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: This happens to Taylor when Bunny sadistically murders the handicapped boy.
  • Booby Trap: Be careful picking up that box of documents, guys.
    • The odd thing is, just before lifting the box, he was telling his comrade to be careful about where he stepped and what he touched because of... well, y'know. Why didn't he just grab the papers from within the box? The Idiot Ball, that's why.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Bunny and Wolfe are killed this way in the Final Battle.
  • Bullet Dancing: Taylor does this to a one-legged Vietnamese villager.
  • The Captain: Subverted with Harris; he's not part of the platoon.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Taken to an extreme with mild-mannered, meek Lt. Wolfe, and the hardass battle-scarred Blood Knight Barnes. In fact, Barnes is the real leader of the unit and easily pushes Lt. Wolfe around.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Junior falls asleep on his watch, blowing an ambush and causing one platoon member to be killed, he immediately tells a bald-faced lie and says it was Chris. The others believe Junior unquestioningly since Chris is the rookie. Chris meekly tries to defend himself ("I didn't fall asleep. It was Junior.") but it falls on deaf ears. "Excuses are like assholes! Everybody has one!"
    • However, if you pay close attention you will see that the two most experienced men (Barnes and Elias) are at least skeptical of Junior's claims. While Barnes growls at Taylor for supposedly sleeping on duty, it's Junior he gives a blistering death glare to when declaring that he'll make the next person asleep on ambush suffer. In addition, Elias pointedly orders Junior to help carry Gardner's corpse
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Of the 31 men of the platoon, 15 die, 11 are wounded, and only 5 are left unscathed by the end of the film.
  • Chromosome Casting: All of the characters are men (appropriate given the setting and period).
  • Colonel Kilgore: Barnes. He exists to live out his survivalist ideas, and he enjoys war to its fullest.
  • Classic Villain: Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes is Wrath, being a ruthless, remorseless Blood Knight to contrast the (relatively) more compassionate Chris and Elias.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Elias when he finds out what Barnes did at the village. So bad that even career soldiers thought it was over-the-top.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: One of the characters lights his cigarette from a villager's burning hut that the American soldiers have just torched.
  • Creator Cameo: Oliver Stone as the company commander who gets bombed to oblivion by an NVA sapper.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: One of the most popular examples. Since this became the main poster/video box/DVD cover image, this rather builds up expectations of the film. The closing narration doesn't help. The image is a homage to the famous 1968 photograph by Art Greenspon.
  • Curse Cut Short: One of the movie posters has an image of an upside-down soldier's helmet with the words "When I die, bury me upside down so the world can kiss my..." written on it.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The platoon finds Manny's corpse upright, pinned to a tree by the NVA. This is what triggers the murders in the village that follow (although a sociopath like Barnes was probably just looking for an excuse to kill someone).
  • Death by Cameo: Oliver Stone gets vaporized by a suicide bomber.
  • Death from Above: And below. And left, right, front, and back. Though to be fair, this trope occurs literally in the form of Huey helicopters and an F-5 Freedom Fighter airstrike.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Sgt. O'Neill, who goes as far as to hide under the corpse of one of his comrades to survive the end of the Final Battle - understandable in the moment as he was about to be surely killed and had no other way to live.
    • Junior also, such as when he sprays bugspray on his feet to make it look like he has jungle rot. He also bolts during the final battle, leaving Bunny to be killed (Though given that Bunny had beaten an elderly Vietnamese villager and her disabled son to death, it's hard to feel bad about that.) Junior is bayonetted to death not long after. His cowardice is so over-the-top that even fellow Dirty Coward O'Neill is disgusted by him.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sergeant Barnes, before revealing himself as a killing machine.
  • Dwindling Party: The titular platoon.
  • Entitled Bastard: Barnes murders Elias, and tries to the same to Chris in a blood-crazed frenzy during the climatic battle, but a nearby bomb blast stops him and wounds them both. When Chris wakes up and has a gun trained on him, Barnes has the nerve to command Taylor to go and get him a medic.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the first scene with the platoon on patrol, Chris cringes at a snake and faints at the sight of an NVA corpse, marking him as a newbie. Barnes mocks Chris's weakness and barks out insults at him and the other soldiers. Elias offers to carry some of the stuff in Chris's overloaded pack, marking him as a nice guy.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • When Junior sprays a can of bugspray onto his feet and claims he has jungle rot and can't walk, Barnes doesn't think too highly of his pathetic lies or his blatant cowardice, threatening to stick a centipede in his crotch and 'see if he can walk.' Bunny and Red are equally disgusted, especially when Junior promptly wusses out and declares he can walk.
    • Wolfe is a completely useless officer who allows Barnes to walk all over him and get away with whatever he wants, but when Chris calls out to the others that Elias has been left behind, Wolfe does make an effort to try to go back and save him.
    • Sgt O'Neill may be a sarcastic jerk, but is noticeably disturbed by Bunny's murder of the disabled villager. He also never commits any major war crimes (that we know of) apart from his role in the village scene. Even that was under Staff Sgt. Barnes' orders and his later response (unlike Bunny's suggestion to frag Elias) was simply to enquire whether there would be a court martial in relation to Barnes' actions.
    • Barnes gives Wolfe a devastating "Reason You Suck" Speech when his incompetence ends up calling down friendly artillery fire on his own men's positions, assailing him while laying into him over how many men he just got blown to hell. It gets so bad Barnes and Elias team up to try and salvage the clusterfuck their lieutenant has made of the situation.
    • Barnes and Bunny both take the loss of Manny hard and personal. It doesn't suggest that they or the other members of the platoon aren't necessarily racist (indeed black Junior is incredibly racist towards white soldiers) but it does indicate comradeship.
  • Eye Scream: Wolfe gets hit by shrapnel in the eyes during the Final Battle (you can see him staggering around covering his face) before being fragged in the head.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Gardner shows Chris some pictures of his girlfriend before their first night in the bush. He's the first member of the platoon to die, that very night when the platoon is ambushed by the enemy.
  • Final Battle: The NVA assault on the base. And how!
  • Foreshadowing: In the immediate aftermath of the ambush battle at the beginning of the film, Barnes finds a wounded VC soldier, and mercilessly put him down by firing a couple rifle rounds into his chest. At the end of the film, Chris puts Barnes down in an identical situation, in a scene that is practically a mirror image of the prior one.
  • For the Evulz: Basically the reason why Barnes and Bunny likes to go around killing people in war.
  • General Ripper: Zig-zagged with Captain Harris. He was willing to court-martial Barnes and Elias if he finds out an illegal killing took place. But during the Final Battle, he orders the air strike on the base which killed many of his own men and the NVA attackers.
    • In fairness to him, final protective fire is an accepted desperation tactic when a position is overrun or about to be overrun, and he is in just as much danger from the air strike as everyone else, as he is literally calling it in on his own command post.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Barnes in Chris' hallucinogenic experience of the final battle.
  • A God Am I: It's implied that Barnes' power over life and death has gone to his head.
    Barnes: I am reality.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Barnes has a nasty scar that zig-zags all up and down the right side of his face.
    • Chris earns a classic "good" scar on his cheek from his fight with Barnes. As Chris leaves on the chopper after killing Barnes, he has a deep cut on his face almost identical to Barnes'.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: Played with. The Americans and the briefly-seen ARVN troops use NATO firearms, while the NVA use Chinese Type 56s and B-40 RPGs, the former of which is also used by both Barnes and Taylor late in the film. Pretty much Truth in Television as discussed in the trope page.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The platoon fractures into an idealist group loyal to Elias and a survivalist group loyal to Barnes. However, the stoners in Elias' group are far from saints. Elias and Taylor are the most moral of the entire platoon, and they do a lot of drugs, cursing, and starting fights.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Despite the enmity in between them, and despite the ruthlessness and remorselessness Barnes had demonstrated... when Elias runs into Barnes in the jungle, it takes him a long while to realize one of them isn't walking away.
  • Hate Sink: Bunny and Junior, with the former being a racist low-functioning psychopath and the latter being a pathetic, cowardly would-be-rapist.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: A thumping heartbeat can be heard as Chris, on watch during his first mission in the bush, sees enemy approaching. Chris freezes up and is still staring at the enemy soldiers when the firefight breaks out.
  • Heroic BSoD: Thrice with Taylor, to the point of becoming Ax-Crazy.
  • Hypocrite: Barnes gives Elias' posse a rambling speech where he casually insults them all, calling them a bunch of potheads trying to escape from reality, whereas he 'is reality.' The entire time he's absolutely slugging Jack Daniels and is obviously hammered on the stuff.
  • Iconic Scene: Elias giving a Crucified Hero Shot (really a call for aid to his friends in the choppers above him) as the NVA riddle him with bullets.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: After abandoning a foxhole during the Final Battle, Junior manages to run straight into a Vietcong soldier's bayonet.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted with Elias, who gets shot twice in the chest but still has enough energy left to run a fair distance, only dying after getting riddled with bullets by his pursuers. Played straight with some of the various NVA mooks, who seem to go down immediately after one or two shots and don't get back up.
  • Ironic Nickname: You'd think a soldier named "Bunny" would be docile and harmless. He's anything but.
  • Irony: Red goes to Barnes to try to cash in on some leave before the Final Battle, because he has a strong premonition that he isn't going to make it out of this one alive, but Barnes rather pragmatically denies him as the platoon is already majorly shorthanded with all the casualties they've suffered by that point. Red is one of the only platoon members to come out completely unscathed, (mainly because he hid under a body for the entire battle) and as the only remaining sergeant left in the platoon, Captain Harris promptly gives him the newly-deceased Barnes' job as platoon sergeant.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: Cpt. Harris orders an F-5 Freedom Fighter to destroy his own base during the Final Battle in a last-ditch attempt to stop the NVA attack.
    Harris: Be advised, we got zips in the wire down here... For the record, it's my call. Dump everything you got left on my pos. I say again, expend all remaining in my perimeter. It's a lovely fucking war. Bravo Six out.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Unsurprisingly happens to Taylor as the film progresses.
  • Jerkass: Barnes, Bunny and Junior. Wolfe has his moments as well, especially towards the end.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Barnes is a pretty horrible human being, but he's shown to be right about the village serving another purpose when they uncover a Vietcong ammo depot hidden amongst the crates. And then he puts a handgun to a little girl's head.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sgt. O'Neill is petty, cowardly, and a bit of an asshole, but he more or less begs Bunny not to kill the Vietnamese civilians.
  • Jungle Warfare: The fighting in this film takes place deep in the Vietnamese jungle, complete with ambushes and patrols.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Chris frags Barnes with three rounds in the upper-right torso, exactly how Barnes shot Elias.
    • Bunny is jumped and executed by a Vietcong soldier, fitting retribution for his brutality toward the Vietnamese villagers.
    • Junior is bayonetted to death by another Vietcong soldier, given that he's a gutless coward who runs off during the fight at the base and was part of the group in the village about to rape an underaged Vietnamese girl, it was well deserved.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • The Final Battle ends with an F-5 Freedom Fighter dropping napalm on the whole base.
    • Oliver Stone, in a cameo role is blown up by an NVA suicide bomber, along with Lerner.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Moorhouse is seen raping a young Vietnamese girl in the village scene. Later he is seen carted away dead in the aftermath of the forest fight. Bunny, Junior and Tony are all fellow participants in the rape. All are killed during the final ambush.
  • Licensed Game: A tie-in videogame was developed by Ocean Software a year after the film's release. Probably some of the least necessary film-to-game adaptations ever, given that the movie was demonizing the war. They at least tried to replicate the film's message in the NES game by giving you a "Morale" gauge which goes down whenever you kill a civilian. Once the bar drops to zero, a Non-Standard Game Over occurs. The game's levels recreated the film's scenes, each with their own gameplay style, from a side-scrolling shooter to a First-Person Shooter, and vice versa. A tactical board game was released around the same time by Avalon Hill. Another tie-in game was released in 2002, this time a real-time tactics game.
  • Made of Iron: Barnes had apparently been shot seven times prior to the events of the film and the rest of the platoon think he can't die as a result. Chris shoots him three times at close range to finish him off after he survives the airstrike.
  • Manly Tears: Chris weeps at the end of the film.
  • The Mentor:
    • Elias is faster, stronger and more experienced than his student Chris.
    • King is also this to Chris, serving almost like a surrogate father figure.
  • Military Brat: Chris comes from a military family - his father fought in World War II and his grandfather fought in World War I.
  • More Dakka: The M60 machine guns used by King, Tex, Morehouse, and Huey helicopter door gunners.
  • My Girl Back Home: Complete with wallet picture and all.
  • Na├»ve Newcomer: Chris, at first. He is called out on his naivete by the other members of the platoon, and eventually grows out of it.
  • The Neidermeyer: Wolfe, the leader of the titular platoon. An incompetent coward who is unable to control his own soldiers, he lets Elias and Barnes do as they like (and the only order he gives is to burn down the village). US Army leadership classes have used Wolfe an example of how a junior officer should not behave.
  • New Meat: Chris and Gardner, the new arrivals to the platoon. Chris has a panic attack upon seeing his first enemy corpse. Barnes mocks him, calling him a "cherry".
  • Never My Fault: The soldiers that advocate killing everyone in the village, including the ones that claim that they're not doing anything wrong when they're trying to rape two girls.
    • Earlier, Junior falls asleep during his shift, resulting in Viet Cong soldiers breaking into camp. Junior pins the blame of Taylor, who had been shot because of Junior's failure to stay awake.
  • Nice Guy: Chris, Elias, King, and a couple of the mauve shirts like Lerner and Francis. Rhah is more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Bunny, because as he says, "When you're dead you don't know it".
  • Obviously Evil: Let's just say Barnes is exactly as nice as he looks...
  • Old Soldier: Captain Harris, who looks old enough to have served as far back as World War II.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: Elias (laid-back/tactical) and Barnes (aggressive). Stone based them on two different sergeants he knew while he was in Vietnam. They never met but Stone wondered what would happen if two men of such opposing viewpoints were in the same platoon.
  • Opposed Mentors: Wide-Eyed Idealist Chris is torn between two Sergeants about how he should conduct himself in Vietnam. As his closing monologue goes" The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called "possession of my soul".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: A Vietcong soldier sadistically murders Bunny in the Final Battle, and, considering what a monster he was, it's hard to feel any sympathy for him.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Barnes of all people is the only member of the platoon comforting Gardner as Doc attempts to save his life (Although, considering he is more than willing to kill his own platoon, his sincerity here is questionable).
    • Before Elias enters the bunker tunnel, he and Barnes share a friendly goodbye joke.
    • When the platoon gets ambushed, Barnes' radioman gets some shrapnel in his back from friendly artillery fire after a shell lands too close and ends up blowing out his radio. Barnes tries to dig the searing shards out with his knife while calling out for a medic, so he's at least trying to save the guy.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Elias starts his fight with Barnes in the village by striking him in the face with the stock of his rifle.
  • Putting on the Reich: The M113 APC at the end of the film has a swastika flag tied to the antenna. According to Stone, APC soldiers during the war were notorious for displaying Nazi paraphernalia on their vehicles.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Americans technically win at the end, but only after taking heavy losses and being forced to literally carpet bomb their own base.
  • Retirony: Subverted. After announcing that he's going home in a chopper in ten minutes with the final battle approaching, King (Keith David) actually does make it out alive.
    • When the Sergeants and Lt. Wolfe are talking about who's going out on ambush Barnes specifically says that the short timers are staying behind so they can avoid this trope.
    • Played straight with Crawford who declares early in the movie that he's got less than 100 days to go. After the Time Skip Crawford gets shot when he would've had at most a couple of weeks to go. However it is implied that he survives.
  • Screaming Warrior: All of the NVA soldiers during the Final Battle.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: Subverted with Elias, a stoner with a relativist attitude to war who is still a complete badass and a more effective commander than Barnes.
    • Although to be fair, there is a literal party scene at one point, complete with joints and a "Tracks of My Tears" singalong.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Junior bolts for dear life when he realizes he and Bunny are completely overrun by the NVA. He doesn't make it. Not too much later, Francis pulls a variant of this, realizing that he's made it out of the final battle unhurt... and immediately remedying this by jabbing his trench knife into his thigh so he can be sent home.
  • Sergeant Rock: Elias and Barnes, in their own ways.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: King, who spends the film acting as Taylor's lighthearted, weed-smoking mentor, is sent home just before most of the platoon is obliterated.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Bunny. Averted during the Final Battle.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: On the cynical side. Very much so.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Quite a few of them, though somewhat understandably so. Barnes and Bunny would be the prime examples. The NVA soldiers were just as bad as them.
  • Stock Parodies: The "Platoon" pose, as seen on the main page.
  • Stopped Caring: By the final battle, many of the soldiers have checked out.
    Wolfe: I just don't give a flying fuck anymore.
  • Straight Edge Evil: Barnes is seen drinking whiskey, but he expresses contempt for drug users.
    "Why do you smoke this shit, some escape from reality? I don't need this shit. I am reality."
  • Stuff Blowing Up: From booby traps, a village, a forest, to an entire military base.
  • Suicide Attack: During the Final Battle, there's that one guy who runs straight into company command and suicide bombs it (taking the director with him).
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: Barnes dares Taylor to kill him after the Final Battle, which he does.
    Do it.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare:
    • Chris after he kills Barnes. And just as dramatically, when Chris first arrives in Vietnam, one of the soldiers boarding the plane back to the States sports a doozy of one.
    • Captain Harris in the film's very last shot of him after the final battle. Dale Dye has said that this shot wasn't even planned or acted - Oliver Stone and the camera crew happened to film him in the middle of a legitimate flashback.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Elias is shot and left to die by Barnes, and is gunned down by the NVA as his comrades look on helplessly.
  • Truth in Television: Ask any Vietnam veteran what the war was like.
  • Tunnel Network: Elias infiltrates an underground VC tunnel at one point in the film.
  • Undignified Death: Junior gets bayoneted multiple times while trying to run away from the final battle. The goofy cross-eyed face he makes is just the icing on the cake.
  • Unfriendly Fire: And more than once. The only time Barnes is talked out of it, there are multiple witnesses.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: Some of the movie's scenes are filled with a deep blue tint, as intended by cinematographer Robert Richardson. Said tint is omitted from Blu-ray/HD releases.
  • The Vietnam War: One of the definitive films about it.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The really big fight at the end is based on the New Years Day Battle of 1968 that Stone lived through.
  • Villainous Valor: Barnes is undoubtedly evil. He's also survived being shot several times, leads from the front and never backs away from either combat or leadership.
  • War Is Hell: This movie does not attempt balance: it is an all-out War Is Hell work. It contains war crimes including murder and attempted rape, graphic imagery of violent death and maiming, PTSD, drug use, mistaken fire on friendly units, and focuses on lethal infighting. note  Stone's complete refusal of nuance arguably makes this one of the only Vietnam films not to accidentally make war look fun, as (to the ire of Stanley Kubrick) Full Metal Jacket most famously did.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Eventually, the platoon gets torn between those who side with Elias or Barnes.
    Taylor: I can't believe we're fighting each other, when we should be fighting them.
  • Weapons Understudies:
    • Colt Model 653 carbines stand in for CAR-15/XM-177's.
    • An F-5 Freedom Fighter stands in for either an F-4 Phantom or an F-105 Thunderchief, which would've been more accurate for the air support role. F-5s were used in Vietnam by the USAF, but only sparingly so for combat evaluations and unlikely for the situation in the movie.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Averted terribly during the village scree, where Barnes riles up the soldiers into burning down a Vietnamese village after finding Manny dead and several soldiers start executing random civilians, out of suspicion of them being members of the Vietcong.
  • You Are in Command Now: Red O'Neill is given command of his own platoon at the end of the movie. Doubles as an Oh, Crap!.
  • Zerg Rush: The final attack of the NVA.

The video games provide examples of:

  • Dolled-Up Installment: The Real-Time Strategy game was originally going to be just, well, a generic Vietnam War-themed strategy game. That is, until the publisher got the rights to the film, and the game's story was retooled to fit the film.
  • Genre Shift: Each level has different gameplay changes. You even get to fight and kill Barnes in a grenade-throwing duel.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • What happens if you kill way too many civilians.
    • If you forget to get the explosives and put them on the bridge, a single enemy kills you with a flamethrower and performs a Total Party Kill.
  • One-Man Army: The player, who is presumably Chris. His "lives" represent other members of the platoon.
  • Timed Mission: The final mission, where you must find and kill Barnes before the F-5 Freedom Fighter drops the napalm.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: In the game, the morale gauge decreases whenever you kill a civilian.