Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. 100
    But Stone has found in Cruise the ideal actor to anchor the movie with simplicity and strength. Together they do more than show what happened to Kovic. Their fervent, consistently gripping film shows why it still urgently matters.
  2. 100
    Nothing Cruise has done will prepare you for what he does in Born on the Fourth of July. His performance is so good that the movie lives through it. Stone is able to make his statement with Cruise's face and voice and doesn't need to put everything into the dialogue.
  3. Stone's feisty, intensely personal style of film making is well-known. With Born on the Fourth of July we are treated to a poignant, spirited and captivating - for the broken heartedness of it all - performance by Tom Cruise. [25 Dec 1989, p.E1]
  4. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July is a knockout, a huge angry howl of movie that uses a crippled Vietnam veteran's disability as metaphor for a country's paralysis. [5 Jan 1990, p.67]
  5. Reviewed by: Barry Mcllhenney
    Some will find it overly long, but with such a pivotal performance by Cruise and a veritable platoon of Hollywood elite supporting, who can begrudge a bit more screen time?
  6. It is a film of enormous visceral power with, in the central role, a performance by Tom Cruise that defines everything that is best about the movie.
  7. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Oliver Stone again shows America to itself in a way it won't forget. His collaboration with Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic to depict Kovic's odyssey from teenage true believer to wheel-chair-bound soldier in a very different war results in a gripping, devastating and telling film about the Vietnam era.
  8. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    The critique of masculinity is far more thoughtful and compelling than the vague ruminations about war. Nonetheless Cruise's impassioned performance as Kovic is an impressive accomplishment.
  9. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Never the most subtle of directors Oliver Stone brings a jackhammer brutality to Born on the Fourth that the material no longer needs. [22 Dec 1989, p.C1]
  10. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    A fresh-slant Vietnam picture in which lead Tom Cruise achieves indisputable greatness, July is otherwise a "more often than not'' achievement. But though it's as full of itself as Stone's watchably windy Talk Radio, the film's roundhouse punches propel you into remote Mike Tyson-land when they connect. [20 Dec 1989, p.1D]
  11. Possibly because Stone empathizes so enormously with co-writer Kovic, who came back from Vietnam at the age of 21 paralyzed from the chest down, the director has lost the specificity that made "Platoon" so electrifying. In its place he uses bombast, overkill, bullying. His scenes, and their ironic juxtapositioning, explode like land mines. [20 Dec 1989, p.1]
  12. Reviewed by: Desson Howe
    Stone has created a film whose overblown parts add up to far less than the epic whole he had in mind.
  13. 60
    This is an impassioned movie, made with conviction and evangelical verve. It's also hysterical and overbearing and alienating.
  14. 50
    for all its flaws, Born on the Fourth of July provides the final proof that Tom Cruise is the real thing-a movie star with all the natural, unforced ability to connect with an audience that the title implies. [20 Dec 1989, p.1]
  15. Reviewed by: David Brooks
    Born on the Fourth of July would be merely a hilariously inept gathering of Vietnam War movie cliches. Instead it is an unrelenting series of dramatic blows; almost every scene packs violence, sleaze, screamed rage and an ear-splitting music with headbutt force. For someone who despises the military, Mr. Stone is quite bellicose. [21 Dec 1989, p.1]
  16. Worst of all, the movie's conventional showbiz finale, brimming with false uplift, implies that the traumas of other mutilated and disillusioned Vietnam veterans can easily be overcome if they write books and turn themselves into celebrities.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Jan 17, 2014
    A true and pragmatic story of how our government took zealous young men and transformed them into cynical alcoholics by using them for their own greedy purposes. As far as we all should know, Vietnam was solely for profiting of oil. Stone's direction and script is feisty and captivating, by affectively making each scene dramatic and not corny. Although, I can still see no aberration from Stone's previous work, as it's all on contentious and widely distributed ideas and topics. Cruise is a revelation as Ron Kovic, a man whose life is more auspicious and pessimistic than any normal person. Stone seems to be the only one who can make war and political dramas that don't become clich├ęd Full Review »
  2. Sep 25, 2013
    This is one of those movies that disguises itself as a riveting drama with a complex message and well-though out scenes. But in fact, this movie falls short of this idea. The movie doesn't have a lot of the elements you would think it would, and the overall feel of the movie is depressing. It as if the rug got pulled from under it, but there was nothing there in the first place. Full Review »
  3. Sep 27, 2011
    If you want to go see Tom Cruise complaining about how unfair life is to him then this is definitely the movie for you. I know it is supposed to be another powerful Oliver Stone Vietnam film and I have respect for Platoon. But really did this film need to be so friggin' long? This was one of Cruise's worst roles and that is saying something. If you want to see a good Cruise film, try Tropic Thunder. Otherwise ignore this bloated, over-long, poorly acted mess of a film that didn't deserve any Oscars that year much less best Director. Full Review »