Full Metal Jacket

"The dead know only one thing: it is better to be alive."    - Joker

release year: 1987
genre: war drama
viewing setting: home Bluray 4/23/16 and 9/26/13 and home DVD 3/11/00

synopsis: In 1968, a group of young Marine recruits goes through basic training at Parris Island, then gets shipped off to Vietnam to fight in a war that America doesn't understand.

impressions: I prefer the first half, which focuses on the training, hazing, and such that is supposed to prepare these kids to go into combat. It's harsh at times, but also quite entertaining, though I always wonder what would happen to someone who got drafted but just couldn't cut it in training. The second half is full of sudden and senseless death, just like in real-life war. I mean one moment some established character is just standing there doing their thing, and the next moment, there's a hole in their chest from a sniper shot. Brutal and realistic. This movie also raises the usual questions about what exactly the U.S. was doing in Vietnam, involved in a war that it s leaders didn't really try to win.

something this movie has that no other movie has: A real live ex-Marine drill sergeant playing a Marine drill sergeant.

acting: Matthew Modine (as the somewhat naive but basically capable protagonist) and Vincent D'Onofrio (as the fat, lazy recruit who keeps fucking up) did great jobs, as did R. Lee Ermey (the ruthless drill sergeant who whips these kids through basic training.) Adam Baldwin is also good as a young soldier who's fully embraced the war and will do what it takes to survive.

final word: Sobering and harsh, essential war movie fare.

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