Full Metal Jacket (1987)


The deadliest weapon in the world is a marine and his rifle. It is your killer instinct which must be harnessed if you expect to survive in combat. Your rifle is only a tool. It is a hard heart that kills. If your killer instincts are not clean and strong you will hesitate at the moment of truth. You will not kill. You will become dead marines and then you will be in a world of shit because marines are not allowed to die without permission. Do you maggots understand?

— Gunnery Sargent Hartman

Full Metal Jacket is my favorite of Stanley Kubrick’s films. Granted I have not seen all of his films, but this #88 movie of All Time on IMDb I have seen a couple of times over the years. I know almost all of the dialogue. That should tell that I still love it.

Based on the novel “The Short-Timers” by Gustav Hasford, the story mostly centers on smart-alecky Pvt. Joker (Matthew Modine) when he was at Marine Corps boot camp in South Carolina called Parris Island. He gets a dose of reality when Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Emery) tries to reel his attitude in.

The next two months are grueling for the grunts that are in training for going out to Vietnam. Joker is promoted to squad leader and has to help a portly fellow affectionately nicknamed Gomer Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio). Pyle is a constant target for Hartman who thinks that he is a worthless piece of shit.

Joker wants to help Pyle with the daily grind of learning how to dress himself, making up his bunk, conquer the obstacle course, disassemble and reassemble his rifle. Pyle tries to do his best, but he has minor fuck ups that cause Hartman to punish the platoon for not making him better.

The 3092 platoon has been punished one time too many for Pyle’s mistakes that cause the platoon to turns against him. In one single brutal act, Pyle snaps. He seems like he became the perfect soldier like Hartman wanted, but slowly unravels from within.

On the last night of boot camp, Pyle reached his breaking point when Joker patrols the barracks and finds him in the bathroom with his rifle.

Fast forward to Joker is deployed to Vietnam as a writer for Stars and Stripes. He travels with a photographer, Rafterman (Kevyn Major-Howard). He reconnects with Cowboy (Arliss Howard), a fellow grunt that survived. Cowboy’s a part of The Lust Hawk Squad with trigger happy, Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin), Eightball (Dorian Harewood), and Doc Jay (John Stafford).

When the team is lost going to their designated checkpoint, the team have to navigate some dangerous waters.

The last sequence of the movie makes me laugh; you would never expect it for this movie. I love the haunting score by Abigail Mead. It still gets to me. I wonder, what happened to Matthew Modine? He was so good in the movie. He has been in a few movies in the past couple of years. Nothing major. It makes you wonder.

Judgment: The ultimate lesson is that war will fuck you up physically and mentally.

Rating: *****


About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on November 9, 2009, in 1987, Academy Award Nominee, Drama, Running Feature, Top 250 of All Time on IMDB, War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. mcarteratthemovies

    That scene with Vincent D’Onofrio KILLS me. I can’t watch it. He’s kind of a menacing guy to begin with, but then those crazy eyes … eek.

    I’ll have to say that I was a big fan of the movie’s beginning but lost interest by the end. To me it feels at times a little like two different movies jammed together, and both parts don’t quite gel.

    And, yes, I realize I just put my neck on the chopping block by criticizing Stanley Kubrick.

    • Vincent was effing scary. I can’t believe that this movie was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. That’s it?

      I can see why you think the movie is two in one. If Kubrick had a smoother transition with the boot camp and Joker’s deployment. Would that have worked?

      Hey, I didn’t like Eyes Wide Shut. I don’t get that movie. It’s fine to question a movie or the director.

  2. I’ll have to say that I was a big fan of the movie’s beginning but lost interest by the end. To me it feels at times a little like two different movies jammed together, and both parts don’t quite gel.

  3. D’Onofrio is wonderful in the film. I didn’t realise until I saw the documentary what a transformation he had to go through. Great anti-war film.

  4. You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  5. Hi there, its pleasant piece of writing about media print,
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