Full Metal Jacket (1987)

By Scott Root · August 10, 2011

Screenplay Genre: Drama / War

Movie Time: 116 minutes


At basic training, a squad of misfits is training to become US Marines. Pvt. “Joker” (Matthew Modine) starts his journey as an underdog, but after standing up to his drill instructor (R. Lee Emery), he is promoted to squad leader and told to look after Pvt. “Gomer Pyle” (Vincent D’Onofrio). (00:19:09)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

The squad completes basic training and receives their assignments in Vietnam. Joker is assigned to “Basic Journalism” and receives fire-watch on his last night in the barracks. Gomer has found basic training too much for his fragile mental state, and Joker finds him alone in the latrine with an M-16 and a full metal jacket. Before Joker can stop him, Gomer shoots the drill instructor before turning the gun on himself. (00:39:45)


After being assigned to cover a unit, Joker and the men hunker down for the night before the Vietnamese “Tet” holiday. They are telling jokes when their position comes under heavy fire. Joker’s superior explains that several mainstream news outlets are calling the war unwinnable and reassigns Joker in hopes of coming up with a story that will rally the troops. (00:54:30)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Joker travels with his old friend from basic, “Cowboy” (Arliss Howard), around the Vietnamese countryside. When their squad leader is wounded and taken out, Cowboy leads an offensive against a city, and the squad is successful. (01:15:30)


The squad continues their mission and explains their actions to a camera crew documenting the war. They come upon another city, which they attempt to take, but two of their men are lost to sniper fire as their success appeared assured. (01:34:25)