Really, any quote by R. Lee Ermey would suffice for this one. Last up in my Kubrick-a-thon is probably my personal favorite, 2001 and Dr. Strangelove aside. At once perversely humorous and grandly pessimistic, Full Metal Jacket was arguably Kubrick’s last truly great film. Indeed, it was his penultimate film, followed only by Eyes Wide Shut, which I have yet to see but I’ve heard plenty about. But regardless, Full Metal Jacket is essentially a two part film; part one running the length of the young recruits’ brutal experience in boot camp, and part two being the actual war experience. Most people will remember part one, and I’ll get to that in a sec, but both parts of the film are truly great in their own way.
The camerawork is typical Kubrick, ever-moving, ever-adventurous; Kubrick loves to really utilize his camera, and the resulting product is nothing but professional in its execution. Of course, the standout in the film is the acting, particularly in part one. I’d be remiss if I were to go any further without mentioning R. Lee Ermey’s unforgettable drill sergeant Hartman, but it’s not just Ermey. Another surprise standout is Vincent D’Onofrio as Private Pyle, especially during the climax of part one that will stick with you like few film scenes can. All of the privates in part one have their quirks and skills, and all are memorable in their own way. It’s when part two comes along that the film sheds previous pretense and truly becomes a war picture; unforgiving and cruel in its portrayal of one of the most evil mass acts of mankind.
I said once before that it seems Stanley Kubrick got into the groove of exploring one film genre after another with his films, and here he dives into the Vietnam war genre, a field already well represented with films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and The Deer Hunter. But to put it frankly, none of these people are Kubrick, and none of their films are a Kubrick film, which I hold to be a class all unto itself. There are certain directors that have their own level of filmmaking, and Kubrick is certainly one of those names. If you haven’t seen this, and want to experience more Kubrick or more war films, this will definitely be a choice you will not regret. Everything that makes a Kubrick picture great is here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Arbitrary Rating: 10/10