Released in 1987 and directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the two-part story novel, The Short
timers
by Gustav Hasford, "Full Metal Jacket" is a profoundly dark action drama set during the
Vietnam War.  

I wish I could court martial this movie.

I’m the Ranting Usher.  Let me talk you out of your seat.

Despite a brief explanation of the philosophy of the duality of mankind, the stark contrast of the
peace sign medallion worn by Private T. James “Joker” (Matthew Modine) along with the words “Born
to Kill” on his M1 helmet doesn’t make much sense.  Aside from sending mixed signals during Joker’
s initial character development, the contrast scarcely contributes to the early part of the story.

When both Joker and Leonard Laurence, played by Vincent D’onofrio, are recruited into the Marine
Corp during the first half of the story, don’t expect many moments of human compassion.  Brutal boot-
camp sequences are depicted.  

The charming Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Emey) who is known for coining such blunt phrases
as...”only steers and queers come from Texas and since you ain’t no steer that kinda narrows it
down,” constantly berates Laurence, giving him the nickname “Gomer Pyle” and encourages the
other would-be soldiers to gang up on him whenever they get a chance.  

To its credit there is something to be said about a movie that speaks to a target audience, namely the
Vietnam Veterans, but this is a cruel and unusual way to demonstrate the sheer reality of military
training.  Isn’t there such a thing as the Band of Brothers?

If there is a glimmer of light anywhere in the film, it is when Joker aids his fellow comrade so that he
can survive basic training, but such moments are minimal at best.  

The second half of the story focuses primarily on whether or not he has it in him to kill.  That his
internal struggle is drawn out over the last hour and given so much emphasis only yields to the kind
of depressing tone only Stanley Kubrick can create.

“Despite being in a world of sh**,” Joker says, “I’m glad to be alive and no longer afraid.”

This is a great line, I must say.   I just wish it could have been used in a different movie and in a more
uplifting context.      

"Full Metal Jacket" is a dark movie that leaves the viewer with a skewed sense of hope in the
betterment of humanity.

I’m the Ranting Usher.  Let me talk you out of your enlistment.

Do you agree with my review?  What about Full Metal Jacket disturbs you the most?
Let me know in the comments section.
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