SCREENnFull Forcenby Katherine DaltonnFull Metal Jacket; directed by StanleynKubrick; screenplay by Kubrick,nMichael Herr, and Gustav Hasford;nbased on the novel The Short-nTimers by Hasford; Warner Bros.nFunny, that a film about “Vietnam asnit really was,” as Platoon was touted,nshould fall so wide of any mark ofnmerit, and that Vietnam films with ansurreal twist—Apocalypse Now andnKubrick’s latest. Full Metal jacket—nshould be so much more interesting. Ifnonly Kubrick had stuck with the movienhe started with, instead of switchingngears entirely after the first third, wenmight have really had something here;nanother Kubrickian warped reality, tonbe sure, but nonetheless fascinating fornthat.nFull Metal Jacket traces the fate of anyoung man (dubbed Private Joker bynhis sergeant) from training at ParrisnIsland, South Carolina, through thenTet offensive. Joker (Matthew Modine)nis the central character of this movie,nbut only slowly and only after about anhalf hour’s worth of film do we reallynbegin to focus on him. Up to thatnFor Immediate ServicenChroniclesnNEW SUBSCRIBERSnTOLL FREE NUMBERn1-800-435-0715n46 I CHRONICLESnILLINOIS RESIDENTSn1-800-892-0753nVITAL SIGNSnpoint the screen is dominated by thencoarse running commentary and ordersnfrom Gunnery Sergeant Hartman,nplayed wonderfully by LeenEmery.nHartman is molding a bunch of softnkids into killers. It’s that plain and thatnsimple, and all cards are on the barrel.nHe will use any tactic that works—nintimidation, force, physical abuse,npeer pressure. There is no malice innhim, but that only makes him thatnmuch more awful to watch. “I do notnlook down on niggers,” he hollers, andnratdes through a list of racial slurs.n”You are all equally worthless here.”n”Make your war face,” he yells atnJoker; “Make your war face—youndon’t scare me; work on it.” “You arenso ugly,” he tells another, “you couldnbe a piece of modern art.” It is terrible,nbut as delivered by Emery (a formernsergeant in real life who actually wrotenmany of his own lines) it is also verynfunny. Right from the start the audiencenis giggling, and so is the recruitnHartman dubs Private Comer Pyle,nuntil Hartman takes him by the necknand chokes the smile off his face, andnours. Marines, as Hartman tells hisncharges, are not to think even of dyingnwithout permission.nIt is all horrible and beautifullyndone. Kubrick descends slowly fromnthe funny into the frightening, andnfrom the frightening into hell. SeeingnPyle trying to maneuver his fat selfnthrough a seemingly endless obstaclencourse, with a screaming Hartmannperched at every turn, is still funny.nWatching the recruits lined up in andouble row on Christmas Day singingnHappy Birthday Dear Jesus is disturbing,nbut still funny. One afternoonnHartman mentions Charles Whitmannand Lee Harvey Oswald. Whitman,nhe reminds the recruits, was the snipernat the University of Texas who pickednpeople off from a distance of 400 yards,nand Oswald plugged Kennedy in anmoving car from 250 feet. “Where donyou boys think these men learned hownto shoot?” Hartman bellows. Even thisnis funny, still.nnnBut in an effort to motivate Pyle,nHartman takes to punishing the rest ofnthe group every time Pyle makes anmistake, which is often. One night,nwhen everyone’s had it, the recruitsngag Pyle and beat him up. After this,nPyle takes to talking to his gun; but hengets motivated. He turns out to be annexcellent shot, and he starts gettingneverything else right, as well.nThe night before graduation. Joker,non fire watch, finds Pyle in the headnwith his rifle loaded: full metal jacket.nHartman hears them and storms in,nprofessionally furious as usual.nThough the tension is high it’s just thensame thing all over again, Hartmannyelling and Pyle taking it, half sick andnhalf funny, until Pyle shoots the sergeantnfull in the chest, then sticks thenbarrel in his own mouth and rips thenback of his head off.nIt is perfect, concise, horrible, hell;na minimovie complete. You get thenmessage loud and clear, and there’snnothing banal about it. Why, then,ndoes Kubrick press on with the muchnmore traditional second half to hisnstory? Which is banal? Which effectivelynruins the first part?nKubrick’s characters are almost alwaysndone well, but they are, almostnalways, upstaged by the movie itself.nWho remembers the names of any ofnthe astronauts in 2001? You remembernHal, though, and that spinningthrough-timendeath sequence. Puttingnsmall men into a larger-than-lifenmovie is practically a Kubrick trademark.nIt is the same here. Though bynthis time in Full Metal Jacket we canndistinguish Joker from the rest (afternboot camp he’s allowed to grow hisnhair back, which helps), he still seemsnan odd choice for a main character.nThere’s just not that much to him. Wenlike Joker for standing up to Hartmann—once, on a religious question—andndislike him for joining in to beat upnpoor dumb Pyle. We can see he’s ancynic, doing a barely passable JohnnWayne imitation. Otherwise, what isnthere? To compare him with the charactersnin Platoon, Joker is not, liken