It ain’t no One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but Chattahoochee is still good for some fist-shaking rabble rousing. Gary Oldman stars as Emmett Foley, a decorated Koren War veteran who suffers a breakdown, goes on a shooting spree and attempts suicide, only to be incarcerated in a maximum security Florida mental hospital/hellhole. There, his will to live returns as he starts a passionate campaign to improve the hospital’s harsh and abusive conditions of neglect and filth. Though Chattahoochee often mistakes shock effect for dramatic tension (and can’t avoid tiresome thematic cliches such as “It’s the sane people who are the crazy ones!”), it does feature some great extremist acting, with Oldman ably supported by Dennis Hopper (nicely underplaying against Oldman’s histrionics), Frances McDormand, Ned Beatty and M. Emmet Walsh. Directed by Mick Jackson, who would later go on to direct L.A. Story (1991), of all things.
No orderly is safe as Gary Oldman starts a mental hospital revolution in this gritty institutional drama.