Friday, August 6, 2010

Capsule Review: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

I don't mean to join the chorus of those who believe that the first half of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket trumps the second so totally as to make the film lopsided, but it's simply too true to ignore. As a treatise on the dehumanizing effects of basic training - we literally see young men broken down in order to be rebuilt as soldiers - the first half is incredibly effective, with R Lee Ermey's career making performance as Sergeant Hartman a memorable highlight. Hartman walks a fine line between being intimidation and comedy, and his eventual dismissal at the half way mark - dispatched by the now crazed Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D'Onofrio) - causes an immediate deflation. Which isn't to say there is nothing worthwhile in the second half, but Private Joker (Matthew Modine) simply isn't a very interesting protagonist which makes his journey disengaging. Still a finely crafted film that remains very different from the Vietnam movies of the time.

1 comment:

J.T. said...

The first act of the film is so jarring that the rest of the movie that actually takes place in 'Nam really pales in comparison, IMO.

Nowadays if I am watching this movie on cable, I invariably quit out after Pyle's suicide.