ďThis is my rifle. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy, who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will. Before God I swear this creed: my rifle and myself are defenders of my country, we are the masters of our enemy, we are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.Ē
- Marine Recruits
What is there to say about Full Metal Jacket that hasnít already been written? An extremely loose adaptation of Gustav Hasfordís The Short Timers, Stanley Kubrickís adaptation, like almost every single one of his other motion pictures, has only grown in esteem and appreciation as the years have gone by. Itís as if most people, myself included to some extent (I was only a kid the first time I saw it so, quite understandably, some of its themes flew over my head), didnít quite know what to make of it as a whole. The pieces? Sure, they were pretty brilliant, but as a cohesive motion picture experience it didnít seem like the first half and the second lived within the same realm of consciousness, and as such many had trouble appreciating just exactly what it was Kubrick was going for.
Now, as a pointless war in Iraq finally dies down and one in Afghanistan eyes a hopeful end date, it is more clear than ever what it was Kubrick was trying to say about warís duality, about the effects it has upon those firing the bullets and how maintaining sense of self is a battle amidst the bloody chaos in and of itself. These themes echo in a way that hits right to the heart of the matter in a way few other films before or since have, showing once again just a how true a cinematic genius the director was and just how far ahead of his time he always proved to be.
So the first half, showcasing how a set of new Marine recruits are trained, put through a mental and physical meat grinder by their slave driver of a task master Gny. Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey), is still the filmís strongest portion. How each man is stripped of their individuality, how they are forced to become nothing more than militaristic automatons emotionless doing the orders of the commanding officers, is terrifyingly chilling, Pvt. Leonard 'Gomer Pyle' Lawrenceís (Vincent DíOnofrio) tragic wilting under the onslaught as horrific now as it ever was back when the film was originally released.
But the second half depicting the soldiers in action in Vietnam, most notably through the eyes of military field reporter Pvt. J.T. 'Joker' Davis (Matthew Modine), has aged superbly. These sequences have a purpose and a meaning I didnít take note of when I was kid, didnít really quite understand as I got a bit older and, only now as an adult, have started to fully grasp and comprehend. Kubrickís intent was to show the grunt experience in a detailed, if somewhat theatrical, way, the artifice coldly stripped bare in order to understand the horrors of conflict in their most nakedly raw form.
Full Metal Jacket is still far from perfect, and while Kubrickís reach is certainly further and more ambitious than say Oliver Stoneís was with Platoon, I still find myself drawn a tiny bit more to that Oscar-winner than I am to this. At the same time, this is a movie worth savoring, worth dissecting, analyzing, debating and discussing in all the ways that matter. Like all Kubrick masterworks, this is a motion picture that only gets better as the years go by, and as such I fully expect it to rise even more in esteem after another quarter century passes.
Full Metal Jacket is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.85:1/1080p transfer. This is the same, extremely excellent, transfer contained 2007 Deluxe Edition Blu-ray.
This Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 along with a plethora of additional audio option and includes English SDH, Spanish, French and numerous other subtitle options. Again, this is the same audio transfer contained on previous Blu-ray releases. It has not been tweaked or changed in any way that I am aware of.
The only new extra, other than the glorious DigiBook Packaging, is the included DVD containing the hour-long documentary Stanley Kubrickís Boxes. Itís a curious piece, one that fits the famously eccentric director rather beautifully, filmmaker Jon Ronson finding himself invited to the auteurís estate after his tragic death to forage through and discover various treasures inside thousands of boxes he left behind supposedly for later use. Responsible for cataloging the contents, what he discovers is a treasure trove of material Kubrick fanatics will undoubtedly salivate over, most of it chronicling what was going on with the director during the lengthy periods of time between his various projects.
Other than that, the rest of the extras, including the solid, if disjointed (they were all recorded separately) Jay Cocks, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'onofrio and Lee Ermey audio commentary and the Between Good and Evil featurette are carryovers from previous releases, as is the inclusion of the filmís Original Theatrical Trailer.
Still a great, extremely powerful motion picture, Warnerís new Blu-ray presentation is the strongest one the studio has released so far. Is it worthy of the double-dip? Depends on just how big a Kubrick fanatic you are. For my part, I would have paid for the upgrade had the studio not sent me a review copy, and would have felt more than satisfied with the purchase had I done so.