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Stanley Kubricks Full Metal Jacket is more like a book of short stories than a novel Many of the passages seem self-contained some of them are masterful and others look like they came out of the bottom drawer This is a strangely shapeless film from the man whose work usually imposes a ferociously consistent vision on his material The movie is about Vietnam and was shot on stages and outdoor sets in England Its one of the best-looking war movies ever made on sets and stages but thats not good enough when compared to the awesome reality of Platoon Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter The crucial last passages of the film too often look and feel like World War II films from Hollywood studios We see the same sets from so many different angles that after the movie we could find our own way around Kubricks Vietnam That would not be a problem if his material made the sets irrelevant It does not especially toward the end of the film You can only watch so much footage of a man crouched behind a barrier pinned down by sniper fire before the situation turns into a cinematic cliche Weve been here before in other war movies and we keep waiting for Kubrick to spring a surprise but he never does The opening passages of Full Metal Jacket promise much more than the film finally is able to deliver They tell the story of a group of marine grunts undergoing basic training on Paris Island and the experience comes down to a confrontation between the gunnery sergeant Lee Ermey and a tubby misfit Vince DOnofrio who is nicknamed Gomer Pyle These are the two best performances in the movie which never recovers after they leave the scene Ermey plays a character in the great tradition of movie drill instructors but with great brio and
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