Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket is an intense, schematic, superbly made Vietnam War drama.

Like the source material, Gustav Hasford’s ultra-violent novel The Short-Timers, Kubrick’s picture is strikingly divided into two parts. First 44 minutes are set exclusively in a Marine Corps basic training camp, while remaining 72 minutes embrace events surrounding the 1968 Tet Offensive and skirmishing in the devastated city of Hue.

While it doesn’t develop a particularly strong narrative line, script is loaded with vivid, outrageously vulgar military vernacular that contributes heavily to the film’s power.

Performances by the all-male cast (save for a couple of Vietnamese hookers) are also exceptional. Surrounded on one side by humorously macho types such as Cowboy and Rafterman, Matthew Modine holds the center effectively by embodying both what it takes to survive in the war and a certain omniscience.

1987: Nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay

Full Metal Jacket

  • Production: Warner. Director Stanley Kubrick; Producer Stanley Kubrick; Screenplay Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford; Camera Douglas Milsome; Editor Martin Hunter; Music Abigail Mead [= Vivian Kubrick]; Art Director Anton Furst
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1987. Running time: 116 MIN.
  • With: Matthew Modine Adam Baldwin Vincent D'Onofrio R. Lee Ermey Dorian Harewood Arliss Howard
  • Music By: