Thursday, November 16, 2006

Full Metal Jacket

This film is one of the great films about intense basic training of young recruits in the army. The title, while perhaps not a perfect match for the story, is very fitting for this film. The full metal jacket supports not only the military aspect involved (a full supply list,) but also a metaphor for the fully equipt and fully prepared soldier...Prepared, of course, thanks to Sgt. Hartman's (Lee Ermey) zealous and undeniably painful formula of training. The question is not whether or not his training is efficient, it is about the manner in which these young boys become brute American soldiers.

It's funny! It's really funny. Sgt. Hartman is terribly tough on the young recruits, deriding and humiliating each one on a regular basis. His way with harsh words is actually quite amusing. The harsh structure pays a tole on all the soldiers, turning them into the most disciplined men...except for Private Pyle, who endures the impossible experience only to lose his mind with a dangerous rifle.

I like this film, up until it changes direction entirely. This is about US marines all the way from training to the dangerous streets of Vietnam in 1968. The problem is this: the majority of the film is about training and tough Sgt. Hartman's program. The focus of the film quickly turns to Pvt. Joker, a seemingly minor character from training. After the training is over and the soldiers experience war first hand, it feels like the film drags. I truly believe the film would have more success if it focused only on basic training, and Hartman's murder marked the resolution.

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