'Cadence' is faulty and familiar, but moving

On movies

February 18, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

''Cadence'' is a small, sketchy little movie, with more faults than you can count. Despite its shortcomings, however, the new film is most effective, even moving at times.

Charlie Sheen stars. His father, Martin Sheen, co-stars and served as director. Sheen was to direct from the start, then took over the co-starring role when Gary Busey had to withdraw from the cast.

The film brings many others to mind, among them, ''A Soldier's Story,'' ''From Here to Eternity,'' ''The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,'' ''Bridge on the River Kwai'' and the more recent ''Full Metal Jacket.''

Charlie Sheen is Pfc. Franklin Bean, who, for reasons not fully explained, is out to make trouble. He really doesn't belong in the Army. He was apparently pushed into it by his father, who hoped the discipline would do something for the boy.

It doesn't. Bean is totally resistant to authority, so much so that you wonder why he hasn't gone A.W.O.L.

Instead, he just makes trouble and ends up in the stockade where he is the only white man in a barracks holding five blacks.

They are initially inhospitable to the newcomer, but in a very short time, all become friends, which is nice because we are spared the prolonged obvious.

That's one of the nice things about this film. It very frequently avoids the obvious.

Martin Sheen is the sergeant in command of the barracks, and he is certifiably bonko, something that becomes more and more apparent as the film moves along. The sergeant's disintegration, however, is not that fully charted.

The movie takes place in 1965. The sergeant is a bully from the start, but as Army bullies go, he isn't all that bad. We've seen worse. Sgt. McKinney's trouble is that he is more bonkers than bully.

''Cadence'' is a bare-bones film. It needs more fill-in, but in spite of its gaps is entertaining and even a little provocative. It is a movie that says something positive about humankind, and there aren't that many films that do.

''Cadence'' is at local theaters. Larry Fishburne, Michael Beach, John Toles-Bey, Blu Mankuma and Harry Stewart are the five stockade prisoners Bean comes to know, and James Marshall and Ramon Estevez, another Sheen offspring, play guards at the stockade.

F. Murray Abraham goes unbilled as an Army lawyer, and one of the supporting players, as an inside joke, is named Estevez.

''Cadence'' ** A rebellious young Army man is thrown into a stockade where is befriended by the five black men who are already there.

CAST: Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Ramon Estevez, Larry Fishburne, Harry Stewart, F. Murray Abraham

DIRECTOR: Martin Sheen

RATING: R (language, violence)

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

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