Director: Stanley Kubrick
Running time: 116 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK Release date: 11th September 1987
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 18th June 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This film was on the TV in a pub I was frequenting last week. Being one of my all time favourites I was hopeful there was going to be a repeat showing. Fortunately the same channel obliged and I was able to record it for a viewing today. For me it is one of the three iconic films about the Vietnam war; the others being Apocalypse Now (1979) and Platoon (1986). I’m sure others will be mentioned in dispatches, but these are the three that have served me best. It is a film of two parts.
The first part deals with the training of a group of U.S. Marine recruits under the watchful eye of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman. Among the platoon are characters Hartman calls Private Joker, Private Cowboy and, the focus of much of his scorn, Private Pyle. Unfortunately Private Pyle isn’t really cut out to be a Marine and keeps making mistakes. It gets so bad that Hartman begins to take it out on the platoon whenever he screws up. This has a rather disastrous effect on Pyle and it doesn’t end well for more than one of them.
With training over the focus now switches to the theatre of action in Vietnam. We follow Private Joker who has become a journalist working for ‘Stars and Stripes’ magazine as a combat correspondent. He is sent into the combat zone with his photographer, Rafterman, where he joins up with a platoon that contains his old friend Private Cowboy. They are sent into a built up area to clear out any enemy combatants hiding inside. Having been pinned down by a sniper, it’s up to Private Cowboy to figure a way out of the situation. I’ll leave you hanging there, if you have seen the film, you’ll know what happens, if you haven’t well, it’s just a little incentive for you to give it a look.
Stanley Kubrick had a great eye for detail and looking at this film you can see that every little detail is perfect. I love the look and the feel of it, even though it is of two very distinct and very different parts. Great performances all round; in particular Matthew Modine as Pvt. Joker, Vincent D'Onofrio (who some of you may know from TV’s Law and Order: Criminal Intent) as Pvt. Pyle and R. Lee Ermey as Gny. Sgt. Hartman. Also worthy of note were; Adam Baldwin as Animal Mother, Dorian Harewood as Eightball, Kevyn Major Howard as Rafterman and Arliss Howard as Pvt. Cowboy.
I will admit that I, like most people I know, enjoyed the first part slightly more than the second. I think it’s because it has many more memorable, even iconic, scenes in it. But in defence of the second part, it was a hard act to follow! Having said that, the second part does deal with the gritty realities of war and goes some way towards satirising it. I should note there is an excellent soundtrack and the use of various songs throughout is well balanced against the visuals. Over all, a near-perfect war film (IMO) and one which comes very highly recommended.
My Score: 9.6/10
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0093058/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/full_metal_jacket/
Trailer (concerning Part 1):
Trailer (concerning Part 2):