a critiQal film review JFK (1991)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: When New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Costner) begins to doubt conventional thinking on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he faces government resistance. Not believing Lee Harvey Oswald (Oldman) acted alone, he perseveres, finding evidence of an extensive conspiracy behind Kennedy's death.

450 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 15s)

When deciding on a movie to watch, we stumbled across a film on Hulu® we hadn’t seen in a long, long time: JFK. Would Oliver Stone’s controversial drama starring Kevin Costner be as enthralling today, or had time diminished the film?

Kevin Costner is excellent in JFK, playing an impassioned Jim Garrison as he searches for answers in Kennedy’s assassination. His character is convinced that there is more to the story, and Costner fleshes out his journey from skeptic to believer amazingly well. Like his role in The Untouchables (1987), he connects with the audience from the get-go, and viewers will gladly go on this strange journey with him.

There are an amazing amount of recognizable names in JFK, from bit part players (Ed Asner, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Vincent D’Onofrio, Brian Doyle-Murray, Pruitt Taylor Vince, John Candy) to bigger parts (Joe Pesci, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Rooker, Laurie Metcalf, Wayne Knight, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, etc.). Around every turn, a new familiar face pops up, and all do a wonderful job in the film.

Even amongst all the stars, there are a few standouts. Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises (2012)), especially, becomes Lee Harvey Oswald, and the viewer may find themselves hard-pressed to distinguish him from the real guy in some sequences. Joe Pesci, playing a role similar to those that made him famous in Goodfellas and Casino, is another standout, while Kevin Bacon (slightly reminiscent of his appearance in Murder in the First (1995)) and Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive (1993)) also contribute nicely. Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)) is also perfectly cast as Mr. X, a beltway insider with loads of info to share with Garrison.

With lots of help from a plethora of familiar faces, Oliver Stone deftly weaves fact, fiction, and conspiracy theory into an intricate pattern in JFK. Whether it’s the “Magic Bullet Theory” or the “Grassy Knoll” theory, Stone does a masterful job of weaving all the major conspiracy theories into the film and sprinkling them with both truths and fiction to make them all the more compelling. It’s not wonder this film helped lead to the passing of the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The film makes all of these conspiracy theories highly believable, and will still have viewers talking about it long after the credits roll.

A shining star in Oliver Stone’s career, JFK, while not as controversial now as it was when it was released, is still an impressive film. Whether you believe the conspiracies or not, watching the impressive array of familiar actors performing at their best will keep this film entertaining viewers for years to come. Check it out again today, and see if you don’t start questioning the “lone gunman” theory yourself.

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