Friday, 10 May 2013

Full Metal Jacket (1987) - ★★★★½

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writer: Gustav Hasford (Novel), Stanley Kubrick (Screenplay)
Stars: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Arliss Howard

Holy cow! Now this is a good movie! I've seen so many movies about the Vietnam war that they all began to look the same. Tonight I saw Full Metal Jacket for the first time, which was such a breath of fresh air. Not only is it one of the most thrilling movies I've ever seen, it's arguably the most quotable movie ever made. Throughout my life I've heard many sayings that came from this movie, yet I had no idea where they came from until now.

This film lacks narrative, which is what makes it work. For the first 45 minutes of the film, we're watching a cantankerous Marine Core Drill Instructor (R. Lee Ermey), break-down and train his squadron until they're prepared for the Vietnam War. For the rest of the film we follow a pragmatic U.S. Marine called The Joker (Matthew Modine) and bear witness to the horrific and dehumanizing effects of the Vietnam war.

The words that came out of the drill instructors mouth made me cringe some of the time and laugh my ass off the rest. For me, the first 45 minutes was when the film was at its strongest. R. Lee Ermey just made Full Metal Jacket standout among countless numbers of brilliant war films. If the first sequence did anything, it showed us how the military's way of training recruits back then was wrong on so many levels. It was genius the way Kubrick showed a simple-minded man develop into a cold-blooded killer. Vincent D'Onofrio impressed me, which is something he never does in Law and Order. 

As for the rest of the movie, Kubrick makes Full Metal Jacket stand out with some of the best camera usage I've seen in any film. In one scene, they throw a smoke bomb (or whatever) into an open area so that they could move across without a sniper shooting them. A handheld camera is used as they run through the smoke, where we see the two people in front of us disappear before our eyes. At this point I felt panicked, as if I were the cameraman myself.

Now, this movie did something that's never happened to me before and I just know it's going to sound silly. Well, I had an outer body experience when a particular scene came on. For the duration of the scene, it was as if I was inside the movie and in the place of The Joker. They were all looking down on a dying Vietcong woman. The most horrendous emotions stirred in me, things I'd never felt in my life.

Look, we all have our reasons to like or dislike Full Metal Jacket. The reason I love it is because no movie has ever had such an effect on me before, which instantly elevates it above almost any other war film I've seen. Not to mention, the acting, soundtrack and cinematography was absolutely stunning. This definitely makes it onto my Greatest War Movies list.

One thing I can't understand: Why was Platoon (1986) nominated for so many Oscars, yet Full Metal Jacket only received one nomination the year afterwards? Personally, I think they're both on par with each other, but Kubrick takes his movie one step further in terms of originality.

1 comment:

  1. William DaFoe, man. Only thing I can think of.