Tigerland is a 2000 war drama film directed by Joel Schumacher starring Colin Farrell in the role of Private Roland Bozz, and takes place in a training camp for soldiers to be sent to the Vietnam War. Tigerland was the name of a U.S. Army training camp located at Fort Polk, Louisiana as part of the U.S. Army Advanced Infantry Training Center. The film's setting is loosely based on this training camp.
It is September 1971 and it is clear that the Vietnam War is lost. In the opinion of the average American soldier who came of age during the Peace movement of the 1960s, Vietnam was lost a long time ago. Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell), a draftee who is opposed to the war, is shown to be an unruly soldier with no respect for authority; he disobeys orders and talks back to his superiors. He quickly befriends another recruit, Jim Paxton (Matthew Davis), an aspiring writer who records his experiences in a personal journal. Unlike Bozz, Paxton volunteered for the Army. Upon reaching their post the company CO, Captain Saunders makes it clear that every soldier who passes through Fort Polk and Tigerland will be sent to Vietnam. He also states that any political views on the war are irrelevant at this point. As the film progresses, another side of Bozz is shown. Having "x-ray vision for loopholes," Bozz finds ways for soldiers to get out of the army, one because he has not only his children, but a handicapped wife with her own, and later another soldier, Miter (Clifton Collins Jr.), who joined to prove his manhood but finds himself way over his head. At one point, another soldier approaches Bozz while on leave and asks for help getting out, saying "I was told if you want to get out of the army, you either pray to Jesus, or go see Roland Bozz." Bozz also shows his reasoning behind being opposed to the war: his human compassion. Eventually Bozz's natural leadership and ability earns him the title of squad leader (sometimes called acting Jack). Another private named Wilson (Shea Whigham), a racial bigot and instigator, continuously demeans Miter and Bozz (basically anyone whom he judges to be "weaker" than himself). Bozz is the only one that retaliates, which results in a fight between the two. Paxton helps break up the fight and also earns the hatred of Wilson. Later, while doing live fire exercises, Wilson goes after Bozz with a pistol, telling him he's going to kill him. Bozz tries to take away the gun and the two wrestle each other to the ground, Wilson getting the upper hand and putting the gun to the back of Bozz's head and pulling the trigger. Miraculously, the gun jams, saving Bozz's life. The Commanding Officer lets Bozz choose the punishment: have Wilson court-martialed or "let me deal with him," strongly suggesting the latter. Despite the commanding officer strongly pressing to let him deal with it, Bozz says he wants Wilson "out of the army" because he recognizes Wilson has taken an emotional beating ever since his inability to command became obvious. Bozz leaves the office saying he wants Wilson out. The platoon is sent to "Tigerland" - a forested training area designed as the best possible replica of Vietnam. During an exercise, Bozz' squad acts as villagers in a mock Vietnamese village, with one squad member designated as a "VC sympathizer", and competes with another squad charged with rooting the sympathizer out. This other squad is led by Wilson, who was not kicked out of the army after all. As the exercise ends with Bozz's squad "winning," Wilson tells Bozz he will kill him no matter what it takes. Soon thereafter, Bozz is about ready to make an escape to Mexico with the aid of some civilians he paid. Platoon member Johnson (Russell Richardson) sees him and tells him to stop; Johnson tells him if he runs away, Wilson will go after Paxton instead of Bozz and he will be responsible for his friend's death. The scene ends with Bozz apparently climbing into the van, but the next morning as the platoon falls in, Bozz comes back, acting as if he had merely gone off to urinate. During the last training exercise, Bozz's squad and Wilson's squad are pitted against each other on patrolling missions. As Wilson's squad prepares for an attack, he replaces his blank cartridges with live ammunition and removes his blank-firing adaptor. As Bozz's squad nears, he opens fire. Though he does not hit anyone, it is obvious he is using live ammunition and the trainer for the exercise tries to intervene. As he does, Bozz is standing above Paxton and deliberately fires a blank round with his rifle muzzle near Paxton's face, the flash wounding Paxton's eye. The trainer aims a pistol at Wilson's head to get him to hold his weapon up and surrender, telling him he will be court-martialed. At the end of the film, the entire platoon gets ready to head to Vietnam, except Paxton whose eye injury, though not permanent, has earned him a medical discharge. Bozz and the others board a bus and he and Paxton exchange farewells through a window. Paxton tells Bozz he's going to write about him, but Bozz says he won't. He has stolen Paxton's journal and rips out pages as the platoon's bus drives off, leaving Paxton scrambling to recover them. Bozz tosses the journal as the bus speeds away. Paxton then is told that Bozz died in Vietnam but he was never listed, others said he just disappeared, but another solder called Paxton and said that he thinks he saw Bozz 3 years ago in Mexico with a beautiful women.