Features and Columns · Movies

How to Read the Climax of ‘A Few Good Men’ Like a Fight Scene

We think we’re entitled, as it were, to this great screenplay analysis.
A Few Good Men Courtroom
Columbia Pictures
By  · Published on December 11th, 2020

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video on why the climactic confrontation in A Few Good Men feels like the final moments of a battle.

What’s your favorite climactic fight scene? Is it Russell Crowe’s Maximus dueling to the death with the evil Emperor Commodus in Gladiator? What about Luke Skywalker honing the force to blow up the death star in Star Wars?

Or, hear me out, how about the final confrontation in the Aaron Sorkin-penned courtroom drama A Few Good Men?

Sure, A Few Good Men might not have the literal appearance of a battle. But breaking down the film like a violent confrontation clarifies what makes the final, explosive confession of Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) so powerful.

Sorkin is known for his quick, heady dialogue and it can often feel like his characters are speaking way over your head. So the video essay below is a nice reminder that even a twisty military cover-up can be made more approachable with the right framework.

The essay outlines the compelling stakes of our hero (Tom Cruise‘s Lt. Daniel Kaffee), how the script clearly defines the rules, weapons, and logistics of the battleground (a military court), and how the film sets the stage for a confrontation where neither opponent is going to give up without a fight.

Ultimately, while the legal case at the center of the film may be complex, A Few Good Men‘s finale is about locking two enemies in an arena and turning up the pressure until one of them breaks.

Watch “A Few Good Men — Writing a Final Battle“:

Who made this?

This genre breakdown comes courtesy of Lessons From The Screenplay, which is a consistently insightful video essay channel created and run by Michael Tucker. Lessons From The Screenplay focuses on analyzing movie scripts to determine exactly how films tell effective stories. You can check out Lessons From The Screenplay’s YouTube channel here. And you can follow Tucker on Twitter here.

More Videos Like This

Related Topics: ,

Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).