Distant Thunder (1988)

Distant Thunder (1988)
5.8
  • 638
  • R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release year: 1988 ()
  • Running time: 114 min
  • Original Title: Distant Thunder
  • Voted: 638

A troubled Vietnam war vet deserts his wife and child shortly after he returns from the war. He returns after 10 years, where he's been living like an animal in the forest. He finds himself unprepared for the changes that he will have to cope with, and when the vet tries to contact his son, he realizes that he has caused more damage than he had imagined.

#PersonCharacters
1John LithgowMark Lambert
2Ralph MacchioJack Lambert
3Kerrie KeaneChar
4Reb BrownHarvey Nitz
  • Life moves on... if you let it. by 8

    John Lithgow surprises me in this carefully penned, sombre mediative low-scale character drama masterfully directed by Rick Rosenthal (Halloween II '81' and 'Bad Boys '83'). The heartfelt topic at hand centres on a man (Nam VET) who returns home to not only to hide away from society (shacked up with a bunch of other ex-Nam soldiers in the wilderness), but also his wife and son. He would like to make contact with his now grown-up son (which is excellently performed by Ralph Macchio), but has trouble overcoming the thoughts of him seeing what he has become. The scarring mentality of combat has changed the way he interacts with people. Escaping those demons means solitude and the area (woodlands replacing steamy jungles) fits these outcasts that no one truly understands. Still he wants to live a normal life and through the caring guidance of Char (a beautifully touching performance by Kerrie Keane) he gets a job and gains the courage to write to his son to plan a get-together. But one thing leads to another, as he finds it's harder to cope and heads back to where he knows there's no expectations.

    The chemistry and exchanges between Lithgow and Macchio is astutely projected, because of the actor's conviction to the material's sources. Lithgow's solemn performance is powerfully engaging in a quietly reflective manner. Where he draws upon a sturdy, but multi-facet display that shows how strong a dramatic actor he is. I'm sure if it wasn't for his performance, it wouldn't have the same imprint. Any Lithgow admirer should seek out this favourably rewarding performance.

    The harrowing story has heart, where relationships are constructed, tested and formed. The war might be over now, but for those who served, it's still a great part of their everyday lives and peace will never consistently fulfil that emptiness. But for Lithgow's character his son can change that. But there's one line in the movie that sums up where this movie is going; "I'm not going to waste all of your time so I'm just going a few words. Like all of you, I would like to move on in life." Towards the end it spurts out a little bit of some thrilling action, which feels totally out-of-place with the context, but is agreeably executed. Rosenthal's accomplished handling comes up trumps. Maurice Jarre's score is exotically haunting and Ralf Bode's silky camera-work is admirably done.

    This praiseworthy (if alienating) unknown feature is well worth the gander and one to really ponder over.

  • " Many a Viet-Nam Vet, left a piece of his soul there, but some return to Kiss a train " by 8

    From the dark misty jungles of Viet-Nam comes this true life story written by Robert Stitzel and directed by Rick Rosenthal. It concerns Mark Lambert, (John Lithglow) a Viet-Nam Vet who returned from the war with more black memories than he could handle. Upon his return to the states, he realizes he cannot deal with his home life and thus deserts his wife and infant child. While living in the wooded highland of his state, he and several other veterans, (Reb Brown) exist day to day with their nightmarish memories in hopes of understanding them. During the same time, life continues and with it Jack (Ralph Macchio) his eighteen-year-old son who decides to locate his father. With the help of a friend Char (Kerrie Keane) the two meet and thus begins the search for who they once were. The film is brutal with explosive emotions and pent-up rage from both Father and Son who expect much, but realize time has become both an an enemy and an ally. Lithglow, gives a fabulous performance and Macchio holds his own. Together, theirs becomes a memorable moment in film history. Easily recommended for those seeking a good understanding of the Viet-Nam era and the souls it devoured. ****

  • Good acting, bad film by 7

    The one scene that really impressed me was the point where John Lithgow's character does postal on a guy with a knife at a bar. It was many years ago since I've seen this film. I still remember that scene. The instant rage in Lithgow, the fear he had of his own actions, and how freakin big he really is. JL never really seemed like an imposing guy to me till then. Good dramatic actor, would like to see more...

  • Misfire? by 8

    I can't believe that IMDb considers this film to be one of actor John Lithgow's "misfires" (how they can lump it into the same category as SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE is just plain baffling). Sure, this isn't a great movie, but it is a good one with many heartfelt moments between the father/son characters played by Lithgow and Ralph Macchio (who proved that he could have been more than just the Karate Kid if the Hollywood System had just given him the chance). This is not a Hollywood movie; rather, it is an independent film that was made in Canada in 1988. Rather than be as overlooked as it was, it should have netted a Best Actor Oscar nomination for John Lithgow, who plays completely against type here. He plays a grizzled Vietnam vet, and speaks with a masculine growl throughout the film; he doesn't sound anything like himself here. It's worth seeing for John Lithgow's performance alone!

  • Well done. by 7

    Distant Thunder is an overlooked but impressive film. John Lithgow gives an oscar worthy performance and the cinematographty gives the film a haunting atmosphere. This film, along with John Frakenhimer's Black Sunday, is an excellent look at Vietnam vets that has, unfourtaneatley, been overlooked.

#PersonCrew
1Ralf D. Bodecinematographer
2Maurice Jarrecomposer
3Rick Rosenthaldirector
4Robert Schaffelproducer
5Robert Stitzelwriter
6Deedee Wehlewriter