JFK movie poster

The size of this is beyond me, comments New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison in the course of his probe into the Kennedy assassination. And to the extent that writer-director Oliver Stone identifies himself with his lone-voice hero, truer words were never spoken. Essentially the movie is simply a remake of 1973's Executive Action (based on Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment), but with several more mountains of circumstantiation. The Presidency up to November of 1963 is taken care of during the credits, with help from narration by that certified Lefty, Martin Sheen ("Suspicions abound that Kennedy is soft on Communism"). And over the next three hours, the conspiracy theory itself is made amazingly clear, though not made cinematically smooth. With the laying-out of the actual crime scene -- the book depository, the grassy knoll, etc. -- the movie feels most like a movie. But too often it splinters into a free-associating jumble in an effort to keep pace with the spillage of words, words, words. It does hold the attention. And it does attest to the undying fascination of conspiracy theories. It cannot be said to attest to their credibility. And Stone perhaps hurts his own case by lengthening the list of the murder victims to encompass Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, and the 50,000 Americans who died in Vietnam. Kevin Costner, Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, and a host of cameo players including (oh, irony!) the real Jim Garrison as Chief Justice Earl Warren. 1991.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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