All AMC Shows
Movies on AMC
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film produced, directed and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. It is an adaptation of the 1979 novel The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford and stars Matthew Modine, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Arliss Howard and Adam Baldwin. The film follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their training and the experiences of two marines of the platoon in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. The film title refers to the full metal jacket bullet used by infantry riflemen. The film was well received by film critics. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Kubrick, Michael Herr and Gustav Hasford. In 2001, the American Film Institute placed Full Metal Jacket at #95 in their "AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills" poll. In 1967, during the Vietnam War, a group of new United States Marine Corps recruits arrives at Parris Island for basic training. After having their heads shaved, they meet their Senior Drill Instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). Hartman employs draconian tactics to turn the recruits into hardened Marines prepared for combat.
Ah, Vietnam. Kubrick, who had already brought us the joys of axe murder, ultraviolence, and nuclear holocaust in his prior works, had something to say about the topic. Although a rash of 'Nam movies saw theaters in the '80s, Full Metal Jacket stands alone with Apocalypse Now in best capturing the absurd dehumanization of wartime, not just during live enemy fire but during the training, the endless pre-battle waiting, and the bloody cleanup afterwards.
Like many of the killing field fodder who entered the Marine Corps in the LBJ/Nixon years, life -- and the movie -- begins at Parris Island, where young men with girlfriends and moms are picked apart and rebuilt as killing machines. Under the tutelage of brutal drill instructor Sergeant Hartman (former real-life drill instructor R. Lee Ermey), men seeking to serve their country find themselves navigating an alternate universe of the USMC's creation.
Sergeant Hartman, in one of the 1980s' funniest and most memorable roles, verbally and physically destroys each of the men, bestowing insulting nicknames that will follow them through the war, punching them in the gut, poking at their weaknesses, and ditching Christmas carols for 'Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus.' The men develop spousal relationships with their rifles, and come to gang up on the privates who are holding the company back. At one disturbing point in camp, troubled Private Gomer Pyle tells Joker, 'I am in a world of shit,' but when an inevitable yet still shocking tragedy occurs, it's obviously a mere precursor to the hell to come overseas.
As the men ship out, the story locks onto Private Joker (Matthew Modine), an aimless young man who excels in boot camp only to become a Corps journalist, much to his sergeant's ire. In Vietnam, Joker reluctantly supports the absurdist fantasies of a military rag whose primary purpose is to boost troop morale. Joker is a detached, ironic hipster 25 years before his time. He scrawls 'Born to Kill' on his helmet but sticks a peace button to his uniform, explaining to an angry colonel 'I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.' From the dusty base camps to the crumbling carcass of Hue, Joker comes to learn one great lesson from the dead: It is better to be alive.
The whole movie stews in that uneasy quiet that Kubrick made his watermark, like The Shining but funnier and more horrifying. The dialogue sets new records for well-earned vulgarity, and unspeakable racial epithets spray faster than a KKK rally through Harlem.
In this modern age of perpetual overseas conflict, FMJ is a stark reminder that long before our young people in uniform see their first roadside bombs, they take up permanent residence in a world of shit. Now how about sending a check to the USO?