Classic Movie Review: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Certificate: 18

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Screenwriter: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio

Genre: Drama, War

Runtime: 116 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

A two-segment look at the effect of the military mindset and war itself on Vietnam era Marines. The first half follows a group of recruits in boot camp under the command of the punishing Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The second half shows one of those recruits, Joker, covering the war as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, focusing on the Tet offensive. – From IMDB

I watched this film a few years ago with some friends and am not afraid to say that it didn’t do much It is worth your time for me.  My tastes have changed a lot since then, I have seen a lot more films, I almost discovered a whole new love for film.  And so upon a rewatch of this film, I found myself enjoying it a whole lot more.  OK, so ‘Enjoy; may not be the right word, because this film is a tough and at times harrowing watch, but it is absorbing and engaging.  For all the horror going on, on screen, you will not be able to take your eyes off it.

I do find the first half of the film to be the most engaging and most interesting.  The performances are outstanding from everyone involved.  But it really is D’Onofrio that takes centre stage in this first segment.  We watch him slowly come apart under the relentless treatment of his drill Sergeant and the tension slowly builds and builds until that final moment where he finally snaps.  As I said, all the performances in this first half are amazing, but the dead look in D’Onofrio’s eyes in that bathroom is one that will haunt me for a while. 

I am less enthusiastic about the second half of the film, where we see Joker actually on the ground in Vietnam, clearly having doubts about not only his, but the United States presence in Vietnam.  And while this portion of the film does have some very impactful moments.  And some really emotional moments, it lacks the punch and fast pace of the first half.

Even if war movies aren’t really your thing, this is a really interesting look at the dehumanising nature of war and not only has some very unpleasant things to say not only about the Vietnam War, which deserves all the criticism it gets, but it also has a lot to say about human nature.  It is worth your time if you want to give it a chance.

Full Metal Jacket is currently available to watch on Now TV.

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