A heavy dramatic portrait of military school education with a disturbing shoot ’em up climax, Taps labors at an unbearably slow pace to an inevitable, depressing conclusion.
Plot [based on Devery Freeman’s novel Father Sky, adapted by James Lineberger] centers on a military academy whose students are angered that their school and its traditions are being sold out from under them in order to build a bunch of condominiums.
Timothy Hutton tries to lend some humanity to the headstrong cadet who leads his fellow students in forcibly taking over the school (weapons and all) in a last ditch effort to save it, but he just appears too nice a guy. George C. Scott makes a brief but convincing appearance as a slightly deranged general.
Much of the supporting cast fare better, especially Sean Penn as Hutton’s humane best friend, Tom Cruise as a trigger-happy cadet and Ronny Cox as the reasonable colonel who tries to talk Hutton out of his mission.