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Everybody gotta die sometime, Red...
~ Bob Barnes giving his life motto to Sgt. O'Neil.
Shut up! Shut up and take the pain! Take the pain!
~ Bom Barnes forcefully makes one of his soldiers to suffer his pain.

Robert "Bob" Barnes is the main antagonist of Oliver Stone’s 1986 Vietnam War film Platoon. He was a high-ranking professional US Army Sergeant in the infantry platoon of the 25th Infantry Division, who was best known for his mysterious yet dark and ruthless nature as a military man, but mostly for his facially disfigured look which he gained after surviving seven injuries of shooting. When the platoon is sent into the fire lines of the Vietnam War at the border of Cambodia and its vast jungles, Barnes is slowly showing his truly cruel nature the more and more the film is progressing, causing a "civil war" inside the platoon; half of it sides with Barnes while the others sides with Sgt. Elias Grodin, who is far more friendly and forgiving than Barnes.

When the "civil war" in the platoon increases far more than expected, and when they enter into an heavily violent battle with the VC, Barnes kills Elias and takes the command on the platoon, driving Chris Taylor (the film's protagonist) mad and nearly beating him for his crime, including the destruction of one small village in which he suspected were farmers which helped the enemy, even personally killing an old lady before nearly doing the same to her child daughter. Eventually; his intention to eradicate any kinds of Vietnamese, regardless their connection to the VC or not, is failed soon as Taylor shoots him to death.

He was portrayed by Tom Berenger, who also played Jack Landsford in Sliver.

Biography

Platoon

Barnes was in co-command of 2nd Platoon along with Sgt. Elias. Barnes was very harsh, uncaring and sarcastic towards his troops but he was very charismatic when it came to garnering their loyalty to him. Among his followers were Sgt. O'Neil, Lt. Wolfe, Bunny, and Junior to name a few. When Chris Taylor was attacked by Red Ants he criticized him for being a "Simple son-of-a-bitch".

Village Destruction

When it came to giving a job to the new guys who were the fresh meat or who sided with Elias he gave them the job of cleaning out the sewage buckets from the bathrooms. When trying to get information out of Vietnamese Villagers to find out if they assisted the NVA or Viet Cong in any way recently, he shoots the village leader's wife dead and resorted to holding the leader's daughter at gunpoint and threatened to kill her if he did not get his answers.

Elias' Death and Fighting Chris

Elias interrupted and the two sergeants got into a fistfight and they on their superior's orders, took the villagers as prisoners and destroyed their village. Later when the NVA attacked he ran into Elias while they was fighting and he decided to shoot Elias dead. He told the troops to leave and he told Chris that Elias was dead but Chris saw through his lie and later when they were leaving Elias came out running from the ruins and then died from his wounds and exhaustion. Later that evening all drunk and smoking cigarettes he gave a monologue that if the war machine breaks down the men break down. He tempted the men into killing him but no one dared except for Chris Taylor who knew he was responsible for Elias' death but Barnes held a knife to his face and cut Taylor's face to leave a scar as a reminder of who's in charge.

Final Battle and Death

Later when Junior's feet were badly burned from mosquito repellent Barnes threatened Junior with Court-Marshaling and putting a centipede in his crotch to see if he could walk after getting bitten. O'Neil then requested for 3 days of R&R but Barnes denied that opportunity because he needed every man in the platoon. At the night of the NVA attack Barnes was on a rampage killing NVA until Taylor ran into him and Barnes was about to kill him with an E-Tool shovel until an F-4 Phantom dropped a napalm bomb on the battlefield. On the morning after the battle, a shell-shocked Chris Taylor picks up a Norinco Type 56 rifle and finds Barnes. Barnes asked Chris to get a medic, noticing the look in Taylor's eyes he then told Chris to "do it" and Taylor quickly killed him with three shots.

Personality

Talking about killing? Y'all experts? Y'all know about killing? I'd like to hear about it, potheads. Why do you smoke this shit? So as to escape from reality? Me, I don't need this shit. I am reality. There's the way it ought to be. And there's the way it is. Elias was full of shit. Elias was a crusader. Now, I got no fight with any man who does what he's told, but when he don't, the machine breaks down. And when the machine breaks down, we break down. And I ain't gonna allow that in any of you. Not one. Y'all love Elias. Oh, you wanna kick ass. Yeah. Well, here I am, all by my lonesome, and ain't nobody gonna know. Six of you boys against me. Kill me. Huh. I shit on all of you...Death? What do you know about death?...
~ Barnes' long speech to Taylor and the others, explaining his actions and expressing his personality.

Ever since that he was a soldier, Bob Barnes became famously known as an extremely ruthless, sarcastic, uncaring, even cruel, cold and nearly unpredictable individual from the very beginning, which becomes proven the more the film progresses, but he is very sarcastic for most of the times.

His near unimaginable cruelty is shown before the soldiers in the platoon soon as he commands them all to destroy and burn the entire village into which they arrived after an ambush; there, the soldiers go insane on Barnes' command while some of them even attempt raping two little Vietnamese girls (although whether Barnes actually gave them permission to do so or Bunny and Junior simply snuck off with those girls without the sarge knowing is left unclear).

His dark and cold nature is far more shown when he causes a "civil war" within the platoon due to his extremely violent methods of action as a soldier, yet, he is still a war hero, as his most famous signature is his facial disfigurement from surviving 7 shots, however, half of the platoon goes to Barnes' leadership while others, including Taylor, sides with Elias, increasingly enraging Barnes until he succeeds in one intention of his; causing Elias to die when he shoots him nearly to death as the two encountered each other during an ambush battle in the jungle region to which one soldier mistakenly led them.

Despite this, when they fly away with the helicopter and watching Elias truly die at the hands of the Viet Cong, Barnes is showing somewhat signs of humanity, yet returns to his darkly cruel nature when Chris learns of his action, causing the two to fight briefly. Prior to his fight with Taylor at the base camp; he is seeing himself as "the reality" and seems to know about death itself before leaving the room in cold mood. His toughness as a military man is also shown when Taylor becomes stung by red ants and he calls him "a simple son of a bitch", deeming him as not a soldier. At the battle in the camp base itself; Barnes finally unleashes his murderous and wild nature and even attempts killing Chris, until they both faint from the suicide attack of an NVA soldier.

At his very final moments of life, he is accepting his dark fate, knowing he has to die as he told O'Neil that everyone got to die sometime, a point of view which he is known for.

Abilities

  • High Intelligence: Barnes is known as a wise and smart person, knowing how to act wisely when he gets into situations of fight.
  • Exceptional Military Training: Barnes is a gifted military fighter from a presumably very young age, which he uses every single time he or his platoon are in the fire lines at the war, and he not ashamed using it against the innocent.
  • Marksmanship: Thanks to his gifted military training, Barnes is also a highly experienced and professional marksman.

Reception

Tom Berenger's portrayal of Sgt. Barnes received highly positive reviews from the audience and the critics, which praised the psychological portrayal he got into the character.

Quotes

Lt. Wolf: Excuse me, Sergeant. But in front of the men, I think it's necessary for me to give the orders.
Barnes: Yes sir.
~ Barnes showing his sarcasm to Wolf.
The motherf*ckers.
~ Barnes showing anger after finding a deceased colleague
Martin, get your boots on. And the next time I catch you spraying skeeter repellent on your f*cking feet, I'm gonna court-martial your n---er ass.
~ Barnes showing racism against Junior.
Barnes: That c*cksucker knows what I'm saying! He understands. Don't you, pop?
Ace: Goddamn right he does.
Red, your guys stay in, but you go! I need veterans out there.
~ Barnes commands O'Neil to send him veterans.

Trivia

  • Tom Berenger, Barnes' actor, like the other actors in the film, was in a real simulated boot camp for two weeks of preparation.
  • Barnes' infamous facial disfigurement was made from hours of makeup attachment on Berenger's face.
  • Despite being Pure Evil, Dale Dye (who played Captain Harris in the movie and was Oliver Stone's real-life military advisor (and who also appeared in four more of Stone's movies (Born on the Fourth of July (1989), JFK (1991), Heaven & Earth (1993) and Natural Born Killers (1994))) said on the DVD commentary that Barnes was something of a tragic character, being so broken by war and understanding that his war crimes were so unforgivable that he ultimately became a death seeker, hence the several battle scars and why he goads Chris and his allies into killing him in the end.
  • Berenger also played the non-villainous Gunnery Sergeant Hayes in Born on the Fourth of July.

Externa Link

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