Stanley Kubrick has made a career of not only being one of the most influential directors in film history but a divisive one at that. He has indulged in multiple genres, always integrating what some consider to be A-list Hollywood in subject matter that might not normally be financed by a high budget studio. One of his most famous examples is 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut, starring the most famous Hollywood couple at the time, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Revolving around a troubled marriage, audiences witnessed Cruise experience a sex orgy within a secret society. Like all his projects, Kubrick reaches past our comfort levels and makes us question both the thematic material onscreen, but those insecurities inside of ourselves.
Watching FULL METAL JACKET, I couldn’t help but put myself in the film and how or if I would be emotionally put together to live through this. We watch as a more than aggressive drill instructor, Hartman, utilizes character breaking methods to turn young recruits into Vietnam War ready Marines. These young ones overall seem to take it all in, but one recruit, Leonard (Vincent D’Onofrio) is the most sensitive of the group. He gets the harshest of treatment which leads to some dire consequences. D’Onofrio here really showcases early on his career the talent that led his still hot career.
That’s just the first half of FULL METAL JACKET as Kubrick transitions us to actual combat. We now follow one of the recruits, Joker (Matthew Modine) as he has become a war correspondent. Through Joker, we witness the dehumanization that resulted from both training and war itself. As someone who is relatively young and living in what some consider a way too sensitive society, I can’t argue that I was incredibly uncomfortable listening to some of the racist and sexist dialogue. With that being said, it doesn’t take away from the quality as this not only occurred during a different time of the world but was filmed several years ago as well. It really made me question if this was filmed now if different precautions would have been made in regards to the dialogue.
However, FULL METAL JACKET is a great example of war cinema and a different way to exemplify character studies onscreen. With Warner Bros. new 4K release, it truly shines in HDR. It’s always a beauty to see no evidence of compression and allows what looks to be natural lighting to truly brighten the screen. The war sequences are allowed to breathe in this new transfer as the explosions exude the backdrops, smoke, and ash billowing on our actors. The audio mix somehow manages to let us not have any issues hearing the dialogue amongst the fire. The first half in particular bumps up the anxiety levels with Hartman’s consistent yelling at the trainees. We definitely hear him loud and clear, possibly louder than the trainees themselves.
Along with the special features from the original Blu-ray release, FULL METAL JACKET is well worth the upgrade.
FULL METAL JACKET is now available on 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.