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Taps

Year: 1981
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Harold Becker
Writer: Robert Mark Kamen
Cast: Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise, George C Scott, Ronny Cox
The current cream of Hollywood acting talent in Cruise and Penn (Hutton faded into obscurity, a string of bad choices condemning him to straight-to-video purgatory) in a movie that bought them to widespread attention.

The result is less impressive than I'd hoped. I thought it was going to be a more incendiary comment on the military mind, not a story about a bunch of kids defending their school. The latter aspect gives it - no matter how serious the approach - something of a Disney movie feel.

When their revered leader tells the students of an elite military academy for boys that the century-old institution is to be closed and the land sold off to property speculators, the boys stage a lockdown and vow to defend their home.

With parents, military authorities, reservists and police swarming around the site and the students holding them off by force of arms if necessary, a tense stand-off ensues for the future of the compound in a battle that seems unwinnable.

Student commander Hutton has to deal with crumbling morale, numbers of followers depleted by abandonment and occasional bursts of violence and the deterioration of his inner command at the hands of dissenter Penn and loose cannon Cruise.

They're all fresh faced and clean cut, as is the movie, and while there's plenty of good drama and tension, it's less than the sum of its parts.

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