In Robert Altman's Streamers, three Army youngbloods trained for service in Vietnam await the fateful day. Billy (Matthew Modine) is a college educated young man from Wisconsin; his friend Roger (David Alan Grier) is a laid back black solider who has learned how to play everything right down the middle; Richie (Mitchell Lichtenstein) is the outsider a well-to-do New Yorker with an effeminate demeanor.
The uneasy tension building in the barracks they occupy is forced out into the open with the appearance of Carlyle (Michael Wright) a lonely, jive-talking, crazy black man from the ghetto. Although seeking friendship with Roger, one of the few blacks in the outfit, he first wants to understand the relationship among the three men. His drunken ramblings bring the battle of wills between Richie and Billy to a head. Violence erupts.
Altman keeps the tension in this screen adaptation of David Rabe's 1975 play at a high pitch. Death is an ominous presence throughout the story, beginning with a suicide attempt by a young soldier trying to avoid duty and continuing with the grim reminiscences of Rooney (Guy Boyd0 and Cokes (George Dzundz), two sergeants who have seen action in Vietnam.
Although the ensemble acting in this gripping film is excellent, Michael Wright must be commended for his sizzling performance as Carlyle, the catalyst who forces everyone to face their dark fears and neuroses.
Special features on the DVD include a look back at Streamers with cast members from the film and stage including George Dzundza, Mitchell Lichtenstein, Matthew Modine, Bruce Davison, and Herbert Jefferson, Jr.