I don't know what you've been told, Lee Emery steals it but hes cold....
Set during the Vietnam War, this film is like a game of soccer there is two halves. The first half of these we follow a group of recruits in a boot camp trained under the very watchful eye of the punishing and unforgiving Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R.Lee Emery). The second half we follow one of these recruits, Joker, whom is covering the war as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes.
If your a regular reader you know I adore the work of Mr Stanley Kubrick, whom in my mind is one of the greatest movie directors of all time, everything he directed is just a classic and he could direct anything. The first half is just Lee Emery eating up the scenery as the drill Sgt, its great, yes hes evil and one relentless bastard but you cant help but feel entertained by it. I don't know if its supposed to be funny or not in these scenes but I laughed at some of the things he comes up with, knowing Kubrick he probably wanted him to be so over the top, because Kubrick seems to like his characters like that. When I say that I'm thinking of Nicholson in The Shining and Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. He pushes these guys to the limit, which unfortunately ends up backfiring on him. This first half for me is the strongest, its very Dark but also Comical, typical Kubrick. Vincent D'Onofrio as Private Pyle also lights up this first half for me, he plays such a tragic character and gives it one hell of a performance, his and Lee Emery's performances are the two things that stay in my mind from this film.
The second half follows Joker after he has joined the war. Hes a correspondent writing about whats happening at the Tet Offensive of 1968, but all he wants to do is see his old pals. He meets up with Cowboy, whom happens to be one of his old pals who happens to have a sociopath named Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin) in his unit. Animal opens up a whole new side of the war to Joker. We follow Joker with this unit on a patrol searching through the ruined city of Hue. The second half for me is a bit weaker but saying that we meet some really interesting characters, whom have different views on the war. I have read a lot of reviews on this film and one thing they tend to do is just pretty much tell the whole story, spoilers and all so I am keeping this review short, because I don't want to join the legion of Spoilers for this movie. The cinematography is top notch in this film, the ruins of the city are just filmed amazingly well, as is the Vietnam country side.
As Kubrick always does he loves putting music in his films, I have said it before he makes movies for audio and vision, a revolutionary he was, the film even ends on such a typical Kubrick touch, lets just say the Mickey Mouse club song has never been used in this way ever before.The credits are played out to Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones, perfection is all I can say, its the perfect metaphor. Its a great war movie, but for me the second half drags a bit after the wonderful dark and comedic opening, saying that its still a must see. Its not my favorite Kubrick film, but its Stanley Kubrick and he pulled off another cracker of a movie. Wish he was still with us.