Full Metal Jacket

"Vietnam can kill me, but it can’t make me care."

Once viewing Full Metal Jacket, it will be nearly impossible for the film to escape one's mind. Full Metal Jacket displaces the Vietnam War into a place of pure unrelenting horror. yet, the horror isn't always in the physical actions of the soldiers. The murder, the disasters, and the environment make for a gruesome testament to Vietnam's legacy. But Full Metal Jacket explores a varying idea- the idea that the horror of war is internal- in one's mind. The real battle is not between nations, but between the evil and the distress of the human mind.

The film opens with a slew of soldiers in training, hopeful, somewhat optimistic, and vitally nervous about the coming future. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is at the heart, or the sinister middle, of the film. His role is to train these soldiers, and shape them to be, ideally, the best they can be. The film follows a selected group of recruits as they undergo intense training under the tyranny of the ruthless Hartman. He spits, he screams, he ridicules, all in the name of mindlessly shaping the boys to be equally ruthless killers. The notorious Hartman singles out Private Pyle, who under performs in training, and exudes some extra weight which slows him down. As the film goes on, he witness the mental degradation of the soldiers, who are on strict training regiment and feel themselves being warped by the day. Most affected is Pyle, who eventually succumbs to the awful tyrannic nature of Hartman in a blistering climax of the first half of the film.

The film now takes an unusual new direction, taking place after training, where the soldiers who made it through are discussing battle plans along a table. The detailed plan is not necessary, but the overlying idea is that a select group are sent into to the city of Hue.

The rest of the film follows an action-packed trajectory of mayhem, violence, and the horrors of war, as soldiers are killed on both sides. A few key scenes indicate the haunting nature of war, and play off the sensational first half of the film.

Director Stanley Kubrick is known to have created polarizing films throughout his career. Full Metal Jacket may not be the best, but its emblematic of Kubrick's stylistic approach to film-making. Its themes are overarching and dark, and the film is done with such brilliance and horror, it remains a highlight of film through all decades.

R
| 1987 | 1 hr 56 min | 8.3/10
Cast
Studio
Director
Francesca Cima, Stanley Kubrick
Language
English
Full Metal Jacket

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