When a smarter person would have been on his way to bed last night, I saw Full Metal Jacket was about to start on a movie channel. I’d seen it a theater when it first came out, but since then had only seen most of the basic training sequences a few times.
My memories of the movie were the basic training stuff was first rate, then it wallowed for a while until the final sniper sequence. Having slept in yesterday morning I thought last night would be as good a time as any to see how well my memories held up.
The basic training bits are as good as I remembered. Uncomfortable to watch, but R. Lee Ermey is brilliant and the actors playing his trainees respond as they should. He carries the first third of the film on his back.
Then he dies, and so does the movie. Beautifully photographed, artfully directed, but what story there is consists of caricatures making speeches to each other, except when they’re making transparent speeches directly to the audience. Timing is affected as scenes are milked. The actors aren’t bad—they do what they can with what they were given.
In the end, a real disappointment, considering FMJ is considered an iconic Vietnam film. Maybe a dozen years after the war was too soon for an objective perspective. Platoon came out the same year (1987), so maybe I need to give that one another look, too.
The end result was, I switched over to another movie channel to catch ten random minutes of Blazing Saddles before I went to bed. Now there’s a movie that holds up well over time.