4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
One of Kubrick's master works.
An extremely graphic movie and the drill sergeant is particularly real.
This was probably because he was a Marine and from what I have heard, was originally hired as a technical advisor. Kubrick realized he had pure gold and put him in front of the camera.
The second half gives the viewer a taste of the Vietnam war and being in the "s***".
I enjoyed the film immensely and have added it alongside my other Kubrick favourites
I am surprised and impressed. This was one of the few later Kubrick films I'd never seen. It's a film which has been referenced by many different shows, including multiple episodes of "The Simpsons," but I never realized this until seeing it. "Full Metal Jacket" feels brutally true-to-life, showcasing both the darkly dramatic and ridiculously absurd aspects of human nature, and the dehumanizing affects of the military machine. It makes you both laugh and gasp, tugs at you to both smile with delight and yet cry with sympathy or cringe with disgust. Rarely have I seen a comedy-drama pull off both opposite sides of the spectrum so well and so often. It becomes both a highly entertaining but also gripping viewing experience you won't soon forget. It's the kind of film you'd recommend to a friend without thinking about it because you know it's something everyone should see, whether to enjoy a top-quality film that is a part of modern culture or because it is an affective guys movie, or because it will move you (to laughter and to tears.)
A brief non-spoiler story breakdown: the first half of the film is the brutal training which is designed to harden the boys into men; that is, to suppress their emotions and sharpen the male persona into a well-oiled killing machine, each able to walk over the fallen dead on his own side and bring down living men on the other without a second's hesitation. Only psychopaths could do such work and since these men are healthy (to begin with,) they need to be broken down and molded into soldiers. You'd think that such a thing would have been depicted in film before, but if you haven't seen "Full Metal Jacket," you'd be wrong. The second half has the men involved with the Vietnam War, a Clockwork Orange outfit, ready to kill for sport like it's their nature to be this way now. Kubrick employs subtlety to suggest that something is a bit off with them, despite how completely devoted they are to the mission (how deeply invested they are in the act.) At no point does the film say the war is necessary or not however; it merely depicts the reality of what war is.
What else can I say? It's a must-see for movie lovers for more than a few reasons, not the least of which is to own one of the best military films ever made.
on June 24, 2004
Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" is split firmly into two short movies. The first part is set in Paris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, where a bunck of kids are dropped off for Marine Boot Camp. This part details their training by the insane Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (played with sadistic glee by R. Lee Emery, a real life Veitnam vet and former Marine D.I.). His main problem child is an over weight, screw up named Lawrence, also non affectionatly known as Gomer Pyle (played by Vincent D'Nonfrio). These two have a major battle of wills through out the sequence, finally ending correctly in tragedy. This is the best part of the movie, as it shows how young men are turned into mindless killing machines. The basic training brainwashing is very powerful, if very uncomfertable to watch. The kids are slowly dehumanized and turned into a thing ready for the war they are about to be dumped into a little later.
The second half is set in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. One of the kids from Basic, Joker (Matthew Modine), is assigned by Stars and Stripes Magazine to cover an infintry platoon and write a story about how they are handleing the suprise attacks. He gets to the units and immediatly meets another Marine he went through training with, Cowboy (Arliss Howard). Joker then gets involved in real combat for the first time in the war. Pretty much if you've seen "Platoon", then you've seen this. There really isn't a lot new here. I have to say, while this part was good, there just just didn't have the umph of the first part.
I was disappointed that the majority of the movie was filmed on Pinewood Studios in England, not in Asia anywhere, so it dosn't look as authenic as "Platoon" or "Apocalypse Now". (The basic training portion was filmed in Paris Island, South Carolina.) The acting is so so. This is an unusual Kubrick film, the characters seem much more warm and human than usual ("2001: A Space Odyssey"or "A Clockwork Orange", for example), but they still don't ring true somehow (no one should be that kill happy). The two most interesting characters are gone by the second half, so there really isn't anyone to root for in the second half. All in all, a split movie, but it's all good.
on April 21, 2004
Inormally hate watching anything more than twice. I get irritated with the tidbits that can make a movie completely awful to watch the second time around. However, with FMJ, it really does get better the more times you watch it! Watch those recruit's facial expressions carefully during the first part of the movie. It's so genuine with the smirks that are given off when the DI yelps his mouth off with hilarious antics. There's no doubt Kubrick filmed the scenes over and over again until they were "just right" -- something that totally lacks in modern day movies. R. Lee Ermey of the History Channel's "Mail Call" shines as the evil drill instructor. Mathew Modine is truly great as "Private Joker" Full Metal Jacket is movie that captures the war from boot camp to the 'Nam and feelings around it so perfectly that nothing can touch it. I was very impressed by how this movie portrayled how brutal boot camp is mentally and physically. I'm sure they don't train people like that anymore, but it was interesting to see how it was done around the Vietnam War. Kubrick is an artist and no one in the industry can even approach his level of skill. This has brutal honesty and passive aggressiveness all in the same package. And it is also the most quotable movie ever.
on March 10, 2004
Great insight into the dehumanisation process of Army basic training. I completed basic training in the Australian Army Reserves. Not quite as severe but still tough - our Platoon Sargent was ex SAS and had served in Vietnam - he said it was "Horrible"
In the movie, the murder / suicide by "Pyle" seems a bit unrealistic. The guy has now completed his basic training and found his niche as a marksman - in other words he got through! There is no obvious reason for his cracking up other than his hate of his drill Seargent - but he has now been trained to focus that anger on Vietnamese - thats the point of training!
The character should have continued into the second part as the sadistic Machine Gunner (who appeared from nowhere)- the triumph of military training over human emotion.
Also the street fighting in Hue was not realisitic - Hue was house to house fighting - not some industrial site. Documentaries will show the real Hue battle which was much more intense and bloody with many civilians caught in crossfire as the Americans attempted to blast everything in their way - including most of the Royal Citidel.
on February 28, 2004
"Full Metal Jacket" is basically two films in one. The best one of course being what the soldiers had to go through in boot camp. Joker ( Matthew Modine), Animal Mother ( Adam Baldiwn), Gomer ( Vincent D'Onofrio), and others are all plunged into a boot-camp hell run by the ruthless and sadistic Sergeant Hartman ( Lee Ermey). He pushes the boys to their physical and emotional limits, and views them as grunts, maggots, or something even lower. Once bootcamp is over, the second story starts, and the boys are thrust into the Vietnam war. This part of the film features tons of realistic battle scenes, how each soldier reacts to the war itself, and the brotherhood that develops between the fellow soldiers.
"Full Metal Jacket" is a beautiful combination of comedy, violence, and the horror of war. As great as this film is however, I could only give it a rating of 4 stars. In order for a film to give a 5 star rating from me, it cannot seem boring or drawn out. Once the soldiers go to war, the film can be extremely slow moving at times. But for the most part, watching the film is a rewarding experience. The cast is sensational. Lee Ermey's portrayal of Drill Instructor Sergeant Hartman is one of the best I have ever seen. I have never felt sorrier for a character than I did with Vincent D'Onofrio's Private "Gomer Pyle". Watching what he had to go through will shock and disgust you. Especially the scene where he gets beat repeatedly with bars of soap. The conclusion to boot camp between Gomer and Sgt. Hartman is one of the most shocking and dramatic scenes that I have ever witnessed. Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Dorian Harewood, and Arliss Howard are all great in their roles as well, and really help to bring the story to life.
Although "Full Metal Jacket" can be quite slow at some points in the film, it is one of the greatest war films ever made. The boot camp session will have you laughing harder than you ever have before, the battle scenes are realistic, the music is wonderful, and the performanes are outstanding. Be warned though, the DVD is extremely mediocre. For some reason, all DVD's for Kubrick's films offer average quality and no extras.
on February 22, 2004
Unlike many of the other reviews here on Amazon, I found the 2nd story to be completely engrossing and also it serves to bring the experience of war full circle from the first story.
We are encouraged to believe during the Paris Island training sequence that the Marines are being turned into cold killing machines. But when we finally see them in the 2nd story, we see the reality of what their training has come to. It is ugly. War is ugly. It is dehumanizing and unforgiving. Kubrick, smartly, pays no moral obligations to any of the elements surrounding the situation (which to some critics is its drawback). The grand finale where the sniper's identity is revealed is one of the most engrossing film images that spring into mind about war and most particularly the current state of what modern war is about.
If you want some schlocky over-sentimentalized melodrama about Vietnam, go watch any number of Oliver Stone's solipsistic nonsense. But if you want to see a film which captures the dehumanizing effects of what war is like, then this is the film you must see.
on February 6, 2004
To date there is no film that is more accurate a depiction of Parris Island Marine Corps recruit training than this (I speak from first-hand experience). My Third Battalion platoon endured the same level of ridicule from two of our junior Drill Instructors (not the third junior or Senior Drill Instructor), and we took our share of beatings from them and even beat on each other every now and then. It was not a wild rampage of chaos but the result of conforming and adjusting to a team mentality where we all understood and accepted the required level of commitment and sacrifice that the title of Marine might some day demand of us. Lee Ermey (FMJ's Senior Drill Instructor) was himself an actual Marine Corps Drill Instructor. He gave a believable performance in the film, The Boys in Company C, during the late 1960's or early 1970's, but the setting was the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, quite different in it's depiction of basic training than Full Metal Jacket.
The boot camp scene in FMJ had all the look and feel of Parris Island, especially the super-wide cement and brick squad-bays of Second Battalion, which faces the Parris Island parade field. The foot lockers, racks (beds), rifles and other equipment, the drill instructor's commands and tactics, the running chants, the behaviors of the recruits, and the entire mood of the boot camp scene is incredibly accurate. I can see how people who have served in other services or different eras of the Corps might not be able to agree, but my experience at Parris Island WAS the Lee Ermey exprience. A typical platoon started with 72 recruits and graduated with 50-60. One platoon in another series actually graduated 25 out of its original 70. It was that tough physically and psychologically. Rifle Range suicides were common. I saw one. Many times the drill instructors would order us off of equipment (a common use of reverse psychology on those who were naturally prone to giving up), but God help the recruit who did give up and jump off. I was ordered to quit what I was doing many times, but I never did quit because I was wise to the trick tactics. After graduation we expected to shake hands and have our pictures taken with our drill instructors, but instead they ordered us, "the f**k off my G*dd**n island!!!"
With all this said, Lee Ermey's character was a loud, obnoxious, wild-eyed, inhuman beast who was "full of piss and vinegar," and nothing even remotely compassionate. But that's how it was. I highly recommend that anyone who is curious about the Marine Corps basic training environment (at least how it was) buy this disc and supplement it with true film footage from a modern Discovery Channel series called, The Making of Marines. Otherwise the film is not worth the plastic disc it is authored on, unless, of course this was similar to your own experience in Viet-nam. For me the show ends with the boot camp scene. Thankfully it consumes about a third to half of the movie. For good Viet-nam films I recommend Platoon, Hamburger Hill, and We Were Soldiers.
With a feeling of (questionably sadistic?) nostalgia: SEMPER FI
Based on Gustav Hasford's novel The Short-Timers and directed by Stanley Kubrick who co-authored the screenplay, this film answers two questions: What was it like for a recruit to go through Marine boot camp during the Viet Nam War, and, what was combat like in that war? Unlike a previous Kubrick film, Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket neither makes nor implies any anti-war statements. Rather, in my opinion, the two separate but related portrayals "tell it like it was." When I first saw this film 25 years ago, my reactions resembled those of Private Benjamin during her own boot camp training: shock and denial. Having never served in a military service, I simply could not believe that Marine recruits are subjected to such abuse, both physical and verbal. One of my sons served in the Marines and confirms what other Marines of my own generation assert, that Full Metal Jacket is about as realistic as a film could be. Older friends who were involved in D-Day make the same claim for Saving Private Ryan.
In any event, the primary plot during the boot camp sequence focuses on Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D'Onofrio), nicknamed "Gomer Pyle," and his struggles to survive constant humiliation by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine D.I.) Played by Matthew Modine, J.T. Davis ("Joker") does everything humanly possible to help him. Months later while on an assignment for Stars & Stripes magazine, "Joker" accompanies a squad in the Khe San area. Once under attack by a Viet Cong sniper, most of the Marines react according to their boot camp training. Of special interest to me is the character Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin) who has become a highly-skilled (probably psychotic) warrior. He defies authority with the instincts of a ferocious animal but, at the same time, reveals a sincere and endearing concern for the welfare of his comrades. It remains for each person who sees this film to determine to what extent (if any) it is "anti-" anything. And perhaps at least a few will share my own initial reaction: Full Metal Jacket consists of two separate but inseparable films which share the same title. Together, they have enduring dramatic impact.
on November 24, 2003
Oh my God! I am so sick of hearing about how realistic the Paris Island segment is and what a great job R. Lee Ermey did playing the drill instructor. I've never seen any portrayal of military basic trainiing that was terribly realistic. The best two would have to be "The D.I." starring Jack Webb, and "The Boys in Company C." (Featuring Ermey in what I consider to be a MUCH better portrayal.) The one flaw I see popping up again and again with this particular theme is the idea of a single instructor training the whole group by himself. You see that in movies like "Private Benjamin" and "An Officer and a Gentleman." (While I'm at it, why is a Marine NCO training Naval officer candidates? Is that how they do it? I don't know.) In FMJ there are two other D.I.s, but they never open their mouths. In real military training you get off the bus and there are between eight and ten guys yelling at you constantly. And those "pregnant pauses" where some D.I. slowly and silently paces around in front of the trainees until he singles one out, then intimidates them in low hushed tones may make for good cinema, but in the real world the yelling is loud, constant, and usually refering to the speed with which the recruits are moving. (Too slow, of course.)
Secondly, as to Ermey's portrayal of a Marine D.I., like I said, he was better in "Company C." In that movie you saw a guy who genuinely cared about what he was doing. He was very concerned with doing a good job because he knew he would be sending these guys to Vietnam. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman of FMJ, on the other hand, was a bullying loud-mouthed jerk who seemed incapable of using contractions in his speech. Any D.I. who handled recruits like that would be sacked. He singled out one guy because he was a screw-up, then kicked his ass for eight weeks without making any real effort to help him. I guarantee that in any group of guys that size you are going to have more than one problem child and the D.I.'s job is to identify the problem with them and fix them. When "Pyle" was climbing the obstacle and froze up at the top, Ermey yelled "Then QUIT! You (bleepedy blah, blah, blah)! Get the f--- off of my obstacle!" A real D.I. would have made him climb over and not let him quit.
Finally, they don't do much real training in FMJ. You see them marching, running, doing some PT and running across a muddy field. They are shown at the confidence course and one short scene at the rifle range. But what about instruction in various weapons? The grenade range? What about lectures on mine emplacement, construction of fighting positions, and vehicle identification? What about training in manouver under fire, tactical formations, map reading? I know they had a limited amount of time, but I would like to see a movie about Marine Recruit Training that puts more emphasis on those things instead of the pseudo-ideological b.s.