movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Christine who says... "This was an amazing film, I have already booked my tickets to see it for a second time!"
A soldier named Parsons is sitting in a broom cupboard of the soldiers rec room shooting himself up with heroin. He goes into the rec room and joins in a game of American football with the other soldiers. He runs to catch the ball and bangs his head on a foosball table and falls to the ground, the game continues, Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) walks over to Parsons, checks his pulse and shouts to the other soldiers Parsons is dead. We next see Parsons body falling from the roof.
Specialist Ray Elwood is the battalion clerk for the 317th Supply Battalion, West Germany, he is reading out a telegram to be sent out detailing Parsons death (he died making essential repairs to equipment) to his boss Colonel Wallace Berman (Ed Harris). We see here how Berman likes Elwood very much and how Elwood uses it to his advantage. He gets Berman to authorize an order for 1000 gallons of Mop and Glow.
Elwood takes the 1000 gallons of Mop and Glow and sells it to some German black marketers, as Elwood explains Three things I love about Germany, My Mercedes Benz, No Speed Limit in the Autobahn and a Black Market for anything I can get my hands on.
We see Elwood and his friends at the bar, a soldier comes up to Elwood and asks him if he has any heroin, Elwood says that he only cooks it, Sgt Saad, the head of military police, is the one that sells it. After Saad (Sheik Mahmud-Bey) sells the heroin to the soldier he speaks to Elwood and asks him when he can expect his next delivery. Elwood tells him he will be cooking it up later tonight and will leave it in the swimming pool in a couple of days. A conversation gets going and Saad tells Elwood and his friends that he is a vegetarian and hates meat (this is important later).
Elwood is with his friends are cooking up the heroin in an old warehouse on the edge of the base. It is a slick operation, but they are not cooking up a lot. Elwood explains his exploits, saying he is doing this as war is hell but peace is fucking boring!
The next day we see Elwood with Col. Berman. Berman has received an autopsy report on Parsons, it seems Parsons was quite the junkie with Coke, Ecstasy and even the contraceptive pill in his blood. Berman is concerned that there is a drug problem on his base and his anxiety is being heightened with the arrival of General Lancaster (Dean Stockwell), as Berman wants to get a promotion. Elwood and Berman's conversation is stopped when Bermans wife, (Elizabeth McGovern) arrives (with an antique chair) and asks if she can borrow Elwood in the afternoon to help her with the furniture, Berman agrees. Later that day we discover that Elwood is having an affair with Bermans wife. Bermans wife asks Elwood to get the decorations for a party she is planning for the Generals arrival.
Elwood and his friends get in a Hummer and prepare to set off to get decorations for the party, when they meet the new TOP sergeant, Sgt Lee (Scott Glen), Sgt Lee is here to clean up the base, there is tension between Sgt Lee and Elwood from the start.
Now for the BEST scene in the movie! The Tank Scene!! There is a tank exercise. The four soldiers in one tank are shooting up and getting high. They receive an order to rendezvous with some other tanks. They are so stoned they have no idea what they are doing, they make there way to the rendezvous point, they take some wrong turns and end up in a town crushing market stalls and a VW Beetle car, they then get out the town and move towards a petrol station. Two army trucks from the nearby Infantry Unit are coming in the opposite direction. They see the tank, get out their trucks, stand in front of the tank and demand they stop. The tank stops, the tank commander is so stoned he doesnt realize these two people are army guys, he tells the driver to turn around, the tank does a U turn and crushes the petrol station in the process. The petrol station blows up, the two army guys are burned to death, the tank is carrying on unharmed, they somehow manage to get to their destination, the stoned soldiers unaware of the carnage they have just created!
After the tank disappears Elwood and his friends, on their way to get decorations, see the burnt out petrol station. They get out and survey the damage, they see the dead soldiers from the infantry unit and then notice the trucks. Elwood seizes the opportunity and tells his friends to follow him as they take the trucks into a wood to see what they have found.
Weapons! The trucks were filled with weapons; Elwood estimates its worth at $3-5 million. Elwood and his friends say that this is their retirement fund. They store the weapons at a nuclear tactical unit in medical boxes.
Elwood goes to his contact for the black market and tells him that he has all these weapons for sale and he wants cash, The Black Marketer offers him an extra 30kg of Heroin on top of his normal order for the weapons. Elwood accepts.
Elwood goes back to his room in the barracks and Sgt Lee is there with 2 MPs and they are turning his room upside down. Elwood has a nice TV, Leather sofa and other luxuries in his room. Sgt Lee makes it clear that he knows Elwood is up to something and will not turn a blind eye like the last TOP sergeant. After this encounter Elwood digs into Sgt Lees history and finds out he is a career solider and has been in most US conflicts in the last 20 years. He is not a guy to be messed with. The next day Elwood gets a roommate, Knoll (Gabriel Mann), Elwood is not happy about this.
Elwood goes to the pool to leave the heroin for Sgt Saad. He sees Bermans wife who wants to know where he has been these couple of days. This is when he first sees Robyn (Anna Paquin) she is a good diver. Bermans wife tells Elwood that Robyn is Sgt Lees daughter and this ignites his interest further.
Elwood sabotages and then fixes Robyns car and arranges to take her out on Friday night. Elwood drives his Mercedes Benz to go and pick up Robyn at Sgt Lees house. Sgt Lee follows them. Elwood takes Robyn to a club, Sgt Lee is not allowed in as he is wearing trainers. In the club Robyn gets Elwood to admit he is going out with her to piss off her dad. Robyn is Ok with this, but warns Elwood that her father is a dangerous man. Robyn and Elwood do some ecstasy and dance. When Elwood takes Robyn home they make out in the car, Sgt Lee sees them.
5am, the morning after Sgt Lee makes the men go on a hike. He tells Elwood to carry a heavy machine gun. The men all get to a firing range. This is the SECOND BEST scene in the movie. Sgt Lee tells the men he has got the latest Russian prototype tank. Sgt Lee uncovers the vehicle it is Elwoods Mercedes! All the men fire at the car, Elwood is looking on in shock as his Mercedes is being shot to bits, he looks at Sgt Lee, and decides if you cant beat them join them, and starts firing at his car. The car blows up!
It is the night of the Generals party. Col Berman is competing for the generals favor with Col Marshall, who is in charge of the nearby Infantry Unit. Berman, eager to gain the upper hand challenges Marshall to an exercise, Bermans men will defend the Nuclear Tactical Unit and Marshalls men will be tasked to attack it. The general thinks this is a great idea.
Meanwhile at the party, Elwood is helping out as a barman. Sgt Lee brings Robyn along. Elwood sneaks onto the patio with Robyn, they talk. Elwood tells her the only reason he is in the army is because a judge gave him a choice of 3 years in prison and 3 years in the army.
Knoll is walking back to barracks when Sgt Saad and his men beat him up, just because he is Elwoods roommate. When Elwood gets back to the room he sees Knoll all bloody and bruised, when he realizes what happened he begins to trust Knoll and lets him in on his schemes.
Sgt Saad finds out about Elwood getting the extra 30kg of Heroin and demands to be Elwoods partner. Elwood reluctantly agrees. Elwood tells Knoll that when you cook Heroin you need to have a full stomach as they fumes will get you as high as a junkie, so they will have to eat every 15 minutes. He tells Knoll to buy lots of burgers and hot dogs. The plan is to cook the Heroin after the exercise.
Elwood is told by the German Black Marketer to make sure the weapons are ready to be delivered in 48 hours as they have been sold. The problem is that the weapons are on the Nuclear Tactical Unit, the site of the exercise between Col Berman and Col Marshall. Elwood comes up with a plan.
It is the day of the exercise the Nuclear Tactical Unit. All the 317 battalion are on the lookout for Marshalls men. Berman is driving to the unit with Elwood, they see 2 food supply trucks, a hungry Berman motions for the supply trucks to follow them into the unit. Once in the unit Marshalls men jump out the food trucks, and take control of the unit, winning the exercise. A few minutes later the weapons are driven out of the unit in medical trucks. Elwood has clearly set this up.
When the General hears about this he relieves Berman from duty and Marshalls CEO takes control of the 317 Battalion. Berman tells Elwood he is disappointed at this, he is going to buy a vineyard and make wine. It seems that Elwood has done Berman a favor!
Later that day the cooking of the heroin is about to take place. There is a lot of heroin to be cooked. Elwood tells Sgt Saad that if the temperature reaches 100 degrees the Heroin becomes like a bomb. The ideal cooking temperature is 85 degrees, to keep the warehouse cool the filter has be replaced every hour. Knoll brings out the snacks, Elwoods men start eating, Sgt Saad and his men do not eat, as they dont like meat. As the fumes increase Sgt Saads men get high. They are watching TV, the Berlin Wall is falling.
Elwood leaves the warehouse after a couple of hours to meet Robyn at the pool. While at the pool Knoll run in. He runs out and Sgt Lee comes in. Sgt Lee calls Knoll Sir, Knoll is Sgt Lees superior and he knows everything about Elwoods scheme. He takes Robyn out into his car and leaves Sgt Lee alone with Elwood. Sgt Lee beats Elwood and then drags him outside into his car and they drive off. Robyn begs Knoll to follow them, as she knows Sgt Lee will kill Elwood, Knoll agrees and follows them.
While this is going on Knoll has arranged for a MP team to raid the warehouse seizing the Heroin and arresting all concerned. The MP team storm into the warehouse, Elwood men run, Sgt Saads and his men are high and dont know what is happening and think the MP team is here to steal the heroin, Sgt Saad tries to shoot of the MPs, and a gun battle starts. While the gun battle happens the warehouse is heating up (we see the thermometer edging up towards 100 degrees).
Sgt Lee takes Elwood to the warehouse, the gun battle is raging on and the MP team is getting high from the fumes as well. Sgt Lee takes a handcuffed Elwood to the top of the warehouse, during this tome Sgt Lee tells Elwood he has done exactly what Elwood has done and worse during his time in the army. He hangs Elwood out of the window; just at this moment Knoll comes in points a gun at Sgt Lee and tells him to give Elwood to him.
The temperature has reached 100 degrees, the heroin begins to explode. The blast kills Knoll, Elwood pulls himself and Sgt Lee out of the window and they fall to the ground. The fall kills Sgt Lee.
A few months later we see Elwood, he a battalion clerk for an army base in Hawaii. His new boss is giving him two medals (one is the purple heart); his leg is in a metal cast. The official report on the warehouse incident says it was a gas explosion. The only people who know any different are dead (and Elwoods men arent going to say anything). Elwood tells his boss that his girlfriend will be visiting him soon; she is studying Politics on the mainland. (It is clear he is talking about Robyn).
The film ends with Elwood asking the boss to authorize 1000 gallons of Mop and Glow!!