Though it flopped at North American box offices, this Brian De Palma-directed war film boasts an emotional complexity and power that many of its ilk lack.Director Brian De Palma's powerful big-screen adaptation of Daniel Lang's harrowing same-name non-fiction book is flawed but still manages to disturb and provoke plenty of thought. This true-life account of a five-man platoon in Vietnam kidnapping a teenage girl during a long-range reconnaissance, and then proceeding to rape and murder her is undeniably strong stuff, yet the filmmaking (considering the delicate subject matter) is respectful, never exploitative. Michael J. Fox stars as the lone member who refuses to take part, and Sean Penn plays the ranking sergeant who in turn questions Fox's loyalty to the group. The film expounds upon the issues of individual responsibility (which resonates due in large part to Fox's superb, deeply felt performance) and the fight to maintain one's humanity while in the midst of inhumanity (which never quite gels due to Penn's uncouth overacting). The setting of Vietnam serves more as a moral backdrop than an action set-piece -- though the two battle sequences on display are well-choreographed -- yet it avoids the stagy preachiness of most Vietnam tales (notably the overpraised Platoon); and the film furthers De Palma's obsession with the tragedy of a helpless man's inability to save the woman who he grows to love (as was unforgettably rendered in his 1981 masterpiece, Blow Out). Yet, in addition to Penn, there's another flaw that diminishes the story's force: the omitting of Fox being under intense questioning by the defense during the court-martial hearing. In the book, it provided a more complex view of the military's ambiguous reaction to his forthcoming nature; in the film, however, it's a bit overstated (though the invention of Penn having saved Fox's life before the kidnapping adds some dimension). Had it stuck with the facts and not deviated with a couple of Hollywood conventions (like a soggy suspense sequence involving a grenade in a latrine), this could have been Best Picture material; but, shortcomings and all, it still qualifies as worthwhile viewing.Worth discovering on home video. But please seek out the letterboxed DVD rather than the VHS, which is panned and scanned and makes a mockery of the director's masterful use of 2.35:1 widescreen.