45. Full Metal Jacket (1987)




Roger's Rating :


Should be :



In some ways I admire Roger for having the nerve to give the great Stanley Kubrick a thumbs down, but I think he made a big mistake here. He said in his At The Movies review "This isn't a bad film but it's not a great film and in the recent history of movies about Viet Nam Full Metal Jacket is too little and too late. It invites comparison with Platoon and I'm afraid it suffers by that comparison." He feels Platoon is a "stronger and more confident movie."
In his written review he says "Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket is more like a book of short stories than a novel. Many of the passages seem self-contained, some of them are masterful and others look like they came out of the bottom drawer. This is a strangely shapeless film from the man whose work usually imposes a ferociously consistent vision on his material." Again Roger is having a problem with a movie because he doesn't think the narrative is strong enough. He finishes his review saying " But Full Metal Jacket is uncertain where to go, and the movie's climax, which Kubrick obviously intends to be a mighty moral revelation, seems phoned in from earlier war pictures. After what has already been said about "Vietnam" in the movies, Full Metal Jacket is too little and too late."
I totally disagree with Roger here. There were some great earlier Viet Nam pictures, but it's never too late to make another statement. The movie is divided in to two halves. The first part contains the great training scenes where the army tries to take away your humanity and the second half contains the battle scenes where the movie explores how the training worked. A great movie that takes its place with Platoon, Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now as one of the great Viet Nam movies.
This great movie has a 8.4 rating on IMDB and a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Not too shabby.



6 comments:

cizio said...

C'mon I love Kubrick but Full Metal Jacket is just not good enough (avoiding the word "bad").
I completely agree with Roger.

Michael Johnson said...

Ebert was absolutely right about this film. In every point, Roger is spot in. Read his full review. This film doesn't deserve to be mentioned in comparison to Platoon

Zatoichi said...

Platoon is just sentimental and manipulative. Full Metal Jacket is anything but; a much better war film.

Anonymous said...

Zatoichi is right. I like Platoon, but it is about innocence and autobiographical, with that agenda (one man's take on things). Full Metal Jacket is about dehumanisation and very plainly-so (albeit with masterful method). It spoke to me personally, as I have been dehumanised (via different methods and circumstances, although ARE THEY really, underneath the surface, that is the question and/or point I take from FMJ which makes it important as humanity hasn't answered these well enough yet and things are getting worse as time goes on), so it transcends the 'war film' genre indeed.

PJ said...

It's the Marines not the army ��
Which is important to understand the authenticity of the first (better) half, that along with using a real Marine as drill instructor. Not a film star. If it sounds over the top here's a quote from the Military Times:
" The images stay with you for the rest of your life: Screaming drill instructors, in your face, in your space, in your nightmares"

What is amazing is that Kubrick working off the book The Short-Timers does NOT present a caricature of the Marines as brutal warmongers, he actually shows lots of evidence that the training is intended and successful to prepare the recruits for the harsh reality of war. Unlike the typical Hollywood movies about Vietnam which were decidedly not only anti-war but a caricature of the military.

Anonymous said...

'Platoon' is Oscar-bait schlock, with 1-dimensional caricatures in place of real soldiers.
The 'At the Movies' episode where they covered 'FMJ' was hilarious for Gene Siskel mocking Ebert about giving a thumbs-up to 'Benji the Hunted' instead. He could be such a toddler.


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