Tigerland is a 2000 American war drama film directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Colin Farrell as Private Roland Bozz. It takes place in a training camp for soldiers to be sent to the Vietnam War.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Produced by||Arnon Milchan|
|Written by||Ross Klavan|
|Music by||Nathan Larson|
|Edited by||Mark Stevens|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Tigerland was the name of a U.S. Army training camp during the mid-1960s to early 1970s located at Fort Polk, Louisiana as part of the U.S. Army Advanced Infantry Training Center. As often the last stop for new infantrymen on their way to Vietnam, Tigerland was established in humid and muggy Fort Polk in order to closely mimic the environmental conditions of South Vietnam. While the film's setting is loosely based on Fort Polk, the film was actually filmed at Camp Blanding in Florida.
In September 1971, the US is losing the Vietnam War. Roland Bozz, a draftee opposed to the war, is an unruly soldier with no respect for authority. He befriends another Army recruit, Jim Paxton, an aspiring writer who records his experiences in a journal. Unlike Bozz, Paxton volunteered. Upon reaching their post, company commanding officer Captain Saunders makes clear that every soldier who passes through Fort Polk will be sent to Vietnam. He also states that any political views on the war are irrelevant.
Having "X-ray vision for loopholes", Bozz finds ways for soldiers to get out of the army — one because he not only has children but also a handicapped wife; another, Miter, had joined to prove his manhood but finds himself in over his head. Eventually Bozz's natural leadership and ability earn him the title of squad leader. Another private, Wilson, a racial bigot and instigator, continuously demeans Miter and Bozz. Bozz fights Wilson, earning Wilson's hatred.
Later, while doing live fire exercises, Wilson threatens Bozz with a pistol. Bozz tries to disarm Wilson, and the two wrestle each other to the ground, Wilson getting the upper hand and putting the gun to the back of Bozz's head and pulling the trigger. Miraculously, the gun misfires, saving Bozz's life. Saunders lets Bozz choose the punishment: have Wilson court-martialed or "let me deal with him", strongly suggesting the latter. Bozz says he wants Wilson "out of the Army", because he recognizes Wilson has taken an emotional beating ever since his inability to command became obvious.
The platoon is sent to "Tigerland", a forested training area designed as a replica of Vietnam. During an exercise, Bozz's squad acts as villagers in a mock Vietnamese village, with one squad member designated as a Viet Cong sympathizer. They compete with another squad charged with rooting out the sympathizer. This other squad is led by Wilson, who was not kicked out after all. As the exercise ends with Bozz's squad "winning", Wilson tells Bozz he will kill him no matter what it takes. Soon thereafter, Bozz plans to escape to Mexico with the aid of some civilians he has paid. Platoon member Johnson tells tells him if he runs away, Wilson will kill Paxton instead. Bozz remains.
During the last training exercise, the two squads are pitted against each other on patrolling missions. As Wilson's squad prepares for an attack, he replaces his blank cartridges with live ammunition and removes his blank-firing adaptor. As Bozz's squad nears, he opens fire. Though he does not hit anyone, it is obvious he is using live ammunition, and the trainer for the exercise tries to intervene. As he does, Bozz is standing above Paxton and deliberately fires a blank round with his rifle muzzle near Paxton's face, the flash wounding Paxton's eye. The trainer aims a pistol at Wilson's head to get him to hold his weapon up and surrender, telling him he will be court-martialed.
The platoon gets ready to head to Vietnam, except for Paxton, whose eye injury, though not permanent, has earned him a medical discharge. Bozz and Paxton exchange farewells. Paxton tells Bozz he is going to write about him, but Bozz says he won't. He has stolen Paxton's journal and rips out pages as the platoon's bus drives off, leaving Paxton scrambling to recover them. Bozz tosses the journal as the bus speeds away.
Paxton is told Bozz died in Vietnam but was never listed as such; others say he just disappeared. Another soldier calls Paxton and says he thinks he saw Bozz three years ago in Mexico with a beautiful woman.
- Colin Farrell as Private Roland Bozz
- Matthew Davis as Private Jim Paxton
- Clifton Collins Jr. as Private Miter
- Shea Whigham as Private Wilson
- Cole Hauser as Staff Sergeant Cota
- Tom Guiry as Private Cantwell
- Neil Brown Jr. as Private Jamoa Kearns
- Tory Kittles as Private Ryan
- Nick Searcy as Captain Saunders
- Afemo Omilami as Sergeant First Class Ezra Landers
- Matt Gerald as Sergeant Eveland
- Michael Shannon as Sergeant Filmore
- James Macdonald as Staff Sgt. Thomas
- Arian Ash as Sheri
Tigerland received positive reviews from critics and has a "certified fresh" rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 46 reviews with an average score of 7 out of 10. The consensus states "A great cast and the gritty feel of the film help elevate Tigerland above the familiarity of the subject matter." The film also has a score of 55 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 reviews. Despite the positive critical reception and its US$10 million budget, the film hardly appeared at the box office, making $148,701 worldwide.