Following the recent 4K Restoration Editions of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining, comes this 4K Restoration Edition of another Kubrick masterpiece, his Vietnam war movie, Full Metal Jacket. Made in 1987, its anti-war and anti-hate message is just as relevant today. The 4K restoration has once again made this Stanley Kubrick classic look and sound better than it has ever been and watching this version is like watching a new movie as the movie has withstand the test of time well.
While Kubrick’s movies are never alike with each film falling under different genre, his trademark directorial style can be felt in all his movies. His penchant for details on the sets, engaging camera angles and getting outstanding performances from his cast stands out in each movie. He is also not afraid to venture into controversial material and certainly does not conform to any form of self censorship when dealing with the rough realities of the subject matter. This quickly becomes apparent as the film opens and throws us right into the horrors of military training in a Marines boot camp. The tyrannical Drill Sergeant Hartman who has the task of turning young men recruited to be soldiers into a killing machines is an iconic role that has gone down in film history. As played by character actor R Lee Ermey, Sgt.Hartman simply comes alive on screen with his strong presence. R Lee Ermey was in real life a Drilling Sergent for the Marines during the Vietnam War which makes his highly qualified for the role and it certainly shows with his unforgettable standout performance!
The first half of the movie focus on the military training while the second half takes us to the Vietnam war itself as we follow one of the soldiers (Joker as played by Matthew Modine) from the boot camp, into a series of experiences as he follows a platoon into a sniper attack. Many viewers would be taken off guard by the seemingly sudden change in style and pace of the two halves. This is especially so as the first half at the boot camp was very impactful and nerve racking, while the second half slowed down and appeared to be going on aimlessly. I thought the contrast was effective in showing how chaotic and directionless the war was. In particular it showed us how ineffective the brain washing at boot camp to become killing machines, is unable to overcome the Vietcong’s guerilla warfare tactics. The boot camp training only managed to corrupt the minds of the young solders into unfeeling killing machines without the benefits of any battlefield tactics.
While Full Metal Jacket may not be my personal favourite from Kubrick, it still is undeniably one of his greatest and earns the “Classic” title easily.