Full Metal Jacket  (1987)

IMDB Rating 8.4/10  116 min - Rated 18 War | Drama

Stars:            Matt Modine,  R Lee Ermey,  Adam Baldwin Director:      Stanley Kubrick

Full Metal Jacket begins at Parris Island in South Carolina for one platoon's recruit training. We meet Sergeant Hartman (Ermey), the senior drill instructor, and several privates he decides to pick out and nickname: Joker (Modine), witty and sarcastic; Cowboy (Howard), a true marine who goes by the book, and Gomer Pyle (D'Onofrio), who's fat and foolish. After boot camp, the new Marines are shipped to Vietnam. Involved in battles, Cowboy is killed by a sniper, whom the Marines discover is a young Vietnamese girl. Joker, now a military journalist, shoots her.  Stanley Kubrick's penultimate film is a cynical, cold-as-steel, often stylized view of the Vietnam War, revealing the ritualized debasement of men in the name of patriotism in the first half, and the horrific results of this patriotism in the second. The boot-camp section goes further than any film before it in showing the sadistic brutality of the training, here in the person of Sergeant Hartman (brilliantly played by real-life drill sergeant R. Lee Ermey.) The film is full of wonderful set-pieces: the opening montage of the recruits being shaved bald, the recruits vulgar introduction to Hartman, Pyle's brutal beating by his fellow troops or Pyle's homicidal/suicidal showdown in the barracks head, and the sniper scene in the Vietcong village (almost from the enemy's perspective) and the Mickey Mouse sing-along at the climax of the film. The film is successful in personalizing war with the selective trials of soldiers, somewhere between the realism of Platoon and the surrealism of Apocalypse Now. Joker sums up the ironic approach to the war when asked why he came to Vietnam: 'I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture — and kill them.'


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