Further exploring and expanding his iconic screen persona, producer-director-actor Clint Eastwood stars as Tom Highway, a gruff, foul-mouthed anachronism of the old Marine Corps who drinks too much and is constantly getting in trouble. Nearing retirement age, having alienated most of his
superiors, Highway asks to end his career where it began and is transferred to perform gunnery sergeant duties in his old outfit. There, the small reconnaissance platoon he is to train proves to be a group of lazy malcontents who feel that they've been duped by the slick military advertising on
television. Earning the admiration of these young hotshots by besting them physically and mentally at every turn, Highway proceeds to whip them into a self-respecting fighting unit that knows how to work as a team. This newfound purpose is tested when Highway and his men are sent off to a small
Caribbean island none of them has ever heard of--Grenada--to rescue American medical students from a hostile Marxist government backed by Cuban troops.
HEARTBREAK RIDGE has drawn flak from those who think Eastwood somehow endorsed the Grenada invasion by refusing to overtly criticize it. But Eastwood isn't interested in the political meaning of the action; what concerns him is how it defines his characters, who only want to survive, not analyze,
the conflict. The strengths and foibles of human beings are what this film--and all of Eastwood's directorial efforts--is all about, and his Tom Highway is one of the most vividly etched male characters seen onscreen in years. Eastwood makes no apologies for this man who knows only how to train
men to kill, but he does understand him. Highway knows he's an anachronism and that he will soon have to leave the only role in which he feels confident; he's made the Marines his family, but now that family is rejecting him in favor of a much more glamorous image.
Eastwood believes that people can change, that contact with others can enlighten, and that attempting to understand one another is extremely valuable, but his characters are close-mouthed, wary, and afraid of appearing vulnerable, simply because they are vulnerable. He proves that it is still
possible to infuse an "entertainment" with greater relevance. Eastwood fans who choose to simply watch and root for the "good guys" will not be disappointed by HEARTBREAK RIDGE, but neither will those looking for insights into the human condition.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1986
- Rating: R
- Review: Further exploring and expanding his iconic screen persona, producer-director-actor Clint Eastwood stars as Tom Highway, a gruff, foul-mouthed anachronism of the old Marine Corps who drinks too much and is constantly getting in trouble. Nearing retirement a… (more)