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Full Metal Jacket (1987) Movie Review

Stanley Kubrick's directing style is always mixed with dolly shots and a stroke of his artistic perspective. That was the case for 1987's hit movie Full Metal Jacket—a mad classic and possibly one of the best Vietnam War movies ever. It also premiered seven years after his popular horror film, The Shining.

Plot Overview

Full Metal Jacket's plot is divided into two sections. The first half talks about a soldier's journey through his boot camp training, and the other, his experience in the Vietnam War.

We follow the story of Private J.T. Davis, nicknamed Joker by his instructor Gunner Hartman after interrupting his introductory speech.

Hartman is a harsh instructor who results in insults and threats to instill a warrior mindset in the soldiers. One particular soldier he teases is dim-witted Leonard Lawrence, whom he nicknames Gomer Pyle because of his slow attitude toward his instructions. Like every team, Private Pyle's failures result in collective punishments for the platoon. One night, all the members result to hazing and beat him up.

Pyle reinvents himself to be a skilled marksman and pleases Hartman but worries Joker because of his unstable mind.

The second half talks about the now Sergeant Joker and his experience in Vietnam. He is assigned to a military newspaper business along with combat photographer Private First Class Rafterman. During the Tet Offensive, their base was attacked, but they held their ground successfully. They are sent to Phu Bai, reuniting with his friend Private Cowboy. After losing their squad leader in a skirmish, the army group is now lost in the city and hopes to return as Joker tries to conquer his fears.

This movie introduced a lot of great talents, such as Matthew Modine, Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Baldwin, and more.


Like many of Stanley Kubrick's classics, you can't view them as straightforward and linear. You must see it differently; otherwise, it will just be a hit-and-miss. Kubrick's directing style is very meticulous and artsy. It's like looking at a surreal painting.

Full Metal Jacket also features dolly-type shots typical to a Stanley Kubrick film.

I got to say, Vincent D'Onofrio's acting is one of a kind. He's like Daniel Day Lewis that can portray any character.

I am honestly surprised that Full Metal Jacket lived up to its name. It's one of those Vietnam War movie classics that tend to be overshadowed by many other films that feature the same topic. It also deals with the psychological aspect of being traumatized by both the harsh training regime and the war itself.

Although the film is divided into two sections, the anthological aspect of each makes the story unpredictable.

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