This is another film that I've only now seen for the first time. Oliver Stone uses this film as a three hour platform to express his theory on the JFK assassination and subsequent investigations. The movie became instantly controversial and Stone was charged with manipulating the truth. I'd like to judge this film on two different levels by seperating out the moviemaking from the historical accuracy.
The film-making is excellent. The story is fast moving and compelling from the get-go. Stone uses historical film interspersed with prepared film to create a seemless recreation of events. The actors look accurate and it's easy to fall into the story's rythym. The movie feels like 1963 (and later '66 and beyond). The events roll along and the fairly complicated web of conspiracy is laid out for the audience to judge. Taken only as movie, it's excellent.
And now for the history part. I've never had great interest in the JFK assassination and am on no level an expert. I have a general distrust of conspiracy theories so you can count me as a skeptic. Having said that, I came away from the movie convinced that something fishy must have happened. The courtroom scene was very compelling in showing a second shooter (at least). A quick google led me to this site which debunks the most damning parts of the movie.
Apart from the physical evidence, there were two different points that didn't pass the smell test to me. The first is the claim that Kennedy was going to end the cold war but was killed by the military to keep this from happening. Kennedy was a Cold Warrior and could never have backed down from that position. He would never have been reelected if he'd run away his earlier anti-communist past. Nor would he have been supported by Congress. And even if the military feared this, there were much easier ways to undermine him. Leaks and prominent disagreements would have done much to stir up the electorate. Killing JFK was well beyond any necessary reaction.
The second point is that conspiracies must be very small to be kept together. In order for this particular theory to be true, dozens (if not hundereds) of people would have to have kept quiet for decades. No death bed confessions. No guilty conciences. No one talking in their sleep or spilling the beans while drunk. This isn't credible at all.
Very good movie spoiled somewhat by the intentions of it's director.