A new group of young men have just joined the U.S Marines Corp. We witness each member getting their heads shaved and then the film begins to give its viewers a deeper insight into the characters as each of these new recruits begin their brutal boot camp training prior to them entering the battlefield. During the boot camp, we are introduced to a few key characters, but at first glance, there are no obvious character introductions. Naturally, this is something that changes in due time. The boot camp training element of this film is certainly a brutal watch as we witness the dehumanizing process of the men. Upon my first watch I was quite surprised how much of the film was spent watching the men prepare and train for battle. Those who have seen this film before may state this film feels like two movies in one. The first half shows our leads being part of a brutal boot camp and the remainder of the film follows our leads into a dark and ruthless war zone.
For those who are not aware, this film is based on the novel ‘The Short-Timers’ by Gustav Hasford and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The director once again delivers a film, unlike anything I have ever seen before and manages to create a war film that is unforgettable to anyone who watches it. While the film may feel like two films in one, the uncomfortable tension that grows remains the same from start to finish. It is a concept that blew my mind from first viewing and I had the exact same reaction when re-watching this film on 4K UHD.
Visuals and filming style for Full Metal Jacket are incredible just as I always remembered. Stanley Kubrick manages to capture everything on camera and takes his audience right into the middle of tense and dramatic moments. During scenes on the battlefield, I always found even the smallest details like backgrounds or other stunning visuals such as facial expressions are all captured wonderfully.
The plot itself is unpredictable and somehow this film manages to shock me every time I re-watch it. Each time I have hopes that certain character outcomes might change. Performances here are stunning and surprising, particularly from actors Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onofrio and Adam Baldwin who all play critical roles in this film. The major standout is the actor R. Lee Ermey who plays Sgt. Hartman at the boot camp. He is quite offensive and consistently dishes out personal damage to his Marine Squad.
Overall, if you have never seen Full Metal Jacket it comes highly recommended. As a war film, it is filled with many dramatic moments and uncomfortable tension that can never be forgotten once you have seen it. Director Stanley Kubrick has delivered an outstanding war film, unlike anything I have ever seen. The film’s visuals and soundtrack are perfection and thanks to a recent 4K UHD Blu-ray release, the visuals are just as impressive as I always remembered. Performances are also a knockout, particularly from Vincent D’Onofrio and R. Lee Ermey. Like the film, both actors provide something extremely unforgettable. This is a must-watch and easily falls into my list of top-rated films of all time.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden