If overdone, morally-anemic movies in a far-from-realistic military setting turn you on, definitely catch TNT’s “Word of Honor.” However, if you in any way value your intelligence, do not watch this movie.
“Word of Honor” shows a deceivingly large amount of promise during the initial scenes of the dying Vietnam veteran relieving his overburdened conscience by telling the true story of a massacre and cover-up in which he participated. Quickly, most hope of a decent movie is squashed in the next scene.
Star Don Johnson, who plays Lt. Benjamin Tyson, greets his wife Marcy Tyson, played by Sharon Lawrence, the morning before he finds out that one of his men has broken the vow of silence. Immediately, the main purpose of Lawrence’s character is revealed along with most of the actress’ thighs, thanks to a white skirt with a slit nearing J. Lo heights. One is quickly led to wonder if Tyson is the principal of a school for prostitutes.
Sure enough, and for no particular reason at all relevant to the main plotline, Tyson is revealed as a trollop who happened to have an obsession with rock cock in the 1980s. Her shallow character appears to have been created by piecing together bits of tabloid matrons. According to the actress herself, “[Tyson] feels no guilt or remorse about [her past] because she wasn’t hurting anyone.”
Even though her character might not regret the past, Lawrence should already regret this role. Questionable acting aside, the role could be used as a textbook case for how the media objectifies women. Not only is her character mainly a sexual object, but she quickly leaves all of her misgivings behind to stand by her man.
The only attempt at justifying the pointlessness of Lawrence’s former dirty existence comes when she confronts Johnson with the line, “At least you knew about my past.”
The rapier wit of the writers continues throughout the entire movie. Johnson also is given his fair share of ageless lines, including “What if one day, the men just went mad?” `
According to promotional materials, Johnson gives a “performance unlike any he’s ever given before.” Fans will most certainly agree. This performance is unique – in a Carrot Top sort of way.
Whether due to misdirected writing or overdone delivery, Tyson comes off as a man whose sense of honor has been ripped out of ancient times and unflatteringly shoved into the modern era. When was the last time it was acceptable to witness the cover-up of the unjustifiable murder of dozens of people and then protect the men who did it?
There are ways to produce a provocative look at the morals of war. “Word of Honor” fails to utilize any of them. Tyson’s morals and values are in no way honorable – they glorify a degraded and sophomoric code best left to elementary students. Worse yet, the military’s refusal to outwardly condemn Tyson and his men sends the message that it is fine to participate in a slaughter, as long as you have a good reason and can eloquently defend yourself.
TNT should be ashamed to further this view of the military and of society in general. Not only does this made-for-TV flick suffer from an epidemic of overacting, but also, more dangerously, is far removed from the mainstream of American morals.
Miller can be reached at email@example.com.