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Full Metal Jacket (1987)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 71
Fresh: 67 | Rotten: 4

Intense, tightly constructed, and darkly comic at times, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket may not boast the most original of themes, but it is exceedingly effective at communicating them.

86

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 2

Intense, tightly constructed, and darkly comic at times, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket may not boast the most original of themes, but it is exceedingly effective at communicating them.

audience

94

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 319,375

My Rating

Movie Info

Stanley Kubrick's return to filmmaking after a seven-year hiatus, this film crystallizes the experience of the Vietnam War by concentrating on a group of raw Marine volunteers. Based on Gustav Hasford's novel The Short Timers, the film's first half details the volunteers' harrowing boot-camp training under the profane, power-saw guidance of drill instructor Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey, a real-life drill instructor whose performance is one of the most terrifyingly realistic on record). Part two

Jun 29, 1999

Warner Bros.

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All Critics (71) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (67) | Rotten (4) | DVD (26)

If his considerable achievement in this long- awaited film falls short of his Olympian standards, there is a reason that ought to give Kubrick some satisfaction. The world has caught up with Kubrick and what he has to say.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It may seem too spare, too clinical, its moments of war even too familiar for some. But, aiming for minds as well as hearts, Kubrick hits his target squarely.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What gives this story its power is not really its originality, but the relentlessness of Kubrick's black-comic vision and the tightness of his focus.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There is a real fear at the heart of this monstrously armored, desperately defensive film.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a great piece of filmmaking, diminished only by a second act that fails to live up to the first act of the Marines in training.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Full Metal Jacket is not a realistic film -- it is horror-comic superrealism, from a God's-eye view -- but it should fully engage the ordinary movie grunt.

August 24, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comments (3)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of Kubrick's foremost triumphs, a genuinely challenging and uncomfortable war film

July 5, 2014 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

No amount of stylistic analysis, however, is likely to explain why a man would devote more than three years of his life to making a war movie in which violent death isn't meant to move us. Does Kubrick really think we're not callous enough about war?

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

While its message is simple -- innocent young Americans are taught to be machine-like killers -- its technique is extraordinary.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

If a film doesn't give us people, it has to offer a substitute -- an idea, a style, a vision. Full Metal Jacket comes up blank.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

Relentlessly harsh in its images and language, Full Metal Jacket is nonetheless the most artful film yet made about the Vietnam War.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

Full Metal Jacket is a great motion picture. Be warned, however, that it is harsh and explicit.

June 21, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

It still qualifies as one of Kubrick's most underrated pictures, and it's second only to Apocalypse Now as the best Vietnam War movie ever made.

August 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing | Comment (1)
Creative Loafing

Kubrick again turns his unsparing eye to the dread of existence...of a godless universe...of moral frailty and civilization gone wrong...[Blu-ray]

August 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Extremely graphic, violent Vietnam War film.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

It still stands as a timeless meditation on war and its effects.

September 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Bullz-Eye.com
Bullz-Eye.com

Less about the Vietnam War than about how the Marine Corps turns its recruits into killers.

June 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Visually poetic, darkly humorous, uncompromisingly brutal, and subversive in every way, Full Metal Jacket is easily one of the best war movies without being remotely similar to your standard issue war flick.

March 31, 2009 Full Review Source: AskMen.com

Kubrick seems to be directing his vision beyond the reality of the Vietnam War to issues far more universal and timeless.

November 29, 2007 Full Review Source: DVD Review
DVD Review

Somehow after the decadence of Barry Lyndon and a philosophical look at horror in The Shining, Stanley Kubrick settled into a film of unrestrained vitriol and aggression.

November 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick turns his attention to Vietnam in this bleak and emotionally draining representation of a conflict that was the perfect subject for which to turn the accepted war movie cliches on their heads. It throws you in the deep end of marine boot camp where conscripts are stripped of all sense of individuality to be turned into killing machines, a process ferociously undertaken by one of the most evil and hateful characters you're ever likely to see on screen. You do not grow to admire and respect this man as you do in most militaristic flag wavers; he is a ruthless sadist who punishes every tiny error with the kind of physical and emotional abuse that would be deemed unconscionable in any other environment. He even holds up a mass murder and assassin as figures to be admired and only considers private Pile, the subject of his systematic humiliation, worthy AFTER he has reached psychological breaking point. Once the action shifts to Vietnam, Kubrick's unsentimental documentary style places you in the thick of the battlefield where the slightest hesitation, act of compassion or humanity is punished by death and he makes no attempt to emotionally manipulate or preach simplistic anti-war messages. In his inimitable style he exposes the ugly truth about war; without their monstrous drill sergeant's brutal teachings they wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in this environment so within the context of war, cruelty is RIGHT. Cruelty WORKS. And any society that was built on militarism has this fact as its foundation; even one whose figurehead is a lovable cartoon mouse.
February 13, 2014
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Kubrick surprisingly only made two films in the 80s . His follow up to The Shining, well-made as it is, is not without certain flaws and is by no means top-drawer Kubrick. However, it is punctuated with incredible moments in spite of its shortcomings, including a grueling opening-act which details marine training at Parris Island and ends with a hair-raising showdown between a grunt and a gunnery sergeant. Also, the film's bloody climax, with its inconclusive clash between the American forces and an enemy sniper, is simultaneously tense, frightening, ironic and meaningless.

The story (taken from Gustav Hasford's novel The Short-Timers) opens with a bunch of green marine recruits undergoing military training at Parris Island. The drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) is a ruthless, motor-mouthed loony who relentlessly humiliates and desensitizes his boys, so that when he has finally stripped them of their humanity he can rebuild them as single-minded killing machines. Among the bunch is happy-go-lucky Private Joker (Matthew Modine), and the vaguely ridiculous (and ridiculed) Private Pyle (Vincent D'Onofrio). As the recruits near the end of their grueling training regime, Pyle finally cracks under the strain and kills the gunnery sergeant, before turning his gun on himself. The action jumps forward to find Joker on a tour of duty in Vietnam. He is by this point a military journalist who has seen some pretty unpleasant sights during his time in 'Nam (and is divided by his experiences - notice his Born To Kill helmet and his Peace buttoned jacket). The platoon he is part of becomes involved in a street battle in the ruins of Hue City near the film's climax, where they find themselves pinned down and picked off by a female Vietcong sniper. Finally, after much panic and bloodshed, darkness falls and the marines retreat into the night singing the Mickey Mouse March.

Where Kubrick really hits his target is in his depiction of the emotional change within Modine's character, and in his cold and cynical (and authentic) view of the dehumanization that results from being subjected to warfare. Women and children become acceptable targets for the gun-toting soldiers; fear of death gives way to callous indifference; violence becomes normal; horrific deaths and injuries become commonplace to the point of disinterest. No-one in the film can remember the cause they're fighting for or, if they can, they never refer to it. It's just one side versus the other, locked in a costly, savage stalemate, as they enter into violent engagements simply because it's expected of them. The lack of real location work is a problem - Kubrick wouldn't film outside England, so the final gun exchange in Hue City was actually shot in a disused London factory yard, complete with imported palm trees. Also, the film is so intentionally detached from compassion that it becomes hard to relate to anyone in the film. While we're supposed to be shocked by the utter indifference with which people are killed or injured during warfare, the total refusal to present a glimmer of feeling or sympathy makes the film's second half as icily distant as it is bloodthirsty.

Full Metal Jacket is certainly powerful and potent, but it really is a tale of two halves. Kubrick's specificity in examining the psychology of the solider is so unrelenting and, dare I say militant; the second half doesn't have the same urgency, which leaves the viewer with a sense of deflation.
December 22, 2012
JonathanHutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

Weaker than other Kubrick films, Full Metal Jacket is still a good film but drags on without much progression in the plot.
August 26, 2012
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

A powerful and cynical film that portrays with dark humor and acid criticism the dehumanizing side of war. R. Lee Ermey and D'Onofrio are fantastic, stealing the show in the most memorable scenes; even so, the second part never achieves the same level of excellence of the first half, turning into just another war movie.
June 10, 2012
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

    1. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: Didn't mommy and daddy give you enough attention when you were a child?!
    – Submitted by James D (2 months ago)
    1. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: You climb like old people fuck private pile!
    – Submitted by Brendan C (19 months ago)
    1. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: If god wanted you up there I am sure he would have miracled your ass up there by now, private Pyle.
    – Submitted by Brendan C (19 months ago)
    1. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: You like the kind of boy who could suck a golf ball through a garden hose.
    – Submitted by Brendan C (19 months ago)
    1. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: [addressing the Privates] There will be no racial bigotry here! I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops, or greasers! Here, you are ALL equally useless!
    – Submitted by David E (20 months ago)
    1. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: Where are you from, anyway?
    2. Pvt. Cowboy: SIR, TEXAS, SIR!
    3. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: TEXAS? Holy dogshit! Only steers and queers come from texas!! And you don't much look like a steer to me so that kind of narrows it down. Do you suck dick?
    4. Pvt. Cowboy: SIR, NO, SIR!
    5. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman: I BET YOU'RE THE KIND OF GUY WHO'D FUCK A MAN IN THE ASS AND NOT HAVE THE COMMON COURTESY TO GIVE HIM A REACH-AROUND.
    – Submitted by Gabe Z (21 months ago)
View all quotes (27)

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