Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this critically acclaimed, brilliantly unconventional war story from Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes. Jarhead (the self-imposed moniker of the Marines) follows... more » Swoff (Gyllenhaal) from a sobering stint in boot camp to active duty, where he sports a sniper rifle through Middle East deserts that provide no cover from the heat or Iraqi soldiers. Swoff and his fellow Marines sustain themselves with sardonic humanity and wicked comedy on blazing desert fields in a country they don't understand against an enemy they can't see for a cause they don't fully grasp.« less
Kimberly B. (TheBookHunter) from SALEM, OH Reviewed on 3/5/2009...
Good war movie
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
In All Fairness I Cannot Be Fair
David B. Isbell | San Diego, CA U.S.A. | 03/28/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Sorry, but I cannot give this film a fair objective evaluation because it hit me personally as a former Marine of 8 years and current Air Force Reservist of 9 years, and also as an OEF/OIF combat zone veteran. So unfortunately I will have to state my opinion and fall into the ranks of the other evaluators whose reviews are voted on according to social poularity contests and not according to the actual content of the reviews. But it's okay...I can live with 0 helpful votes out of 26 reviews!
I watched Jarhead for the first time yesterday. My stint in the Corps lasted from 1986 to 1994 and I spent plenty of time living in open squad bays, two-man "hooches," GP tents with all kinds of Marines from 0311 grunts and 9th Recon Marines to pencil pushing office pogues in a variety of countries and secluded, tense conditions. Of all the personalities I was exposed to and all the practical jokes, mind games and stress releaving activities, I can honestly say that I never ran across such sustained extremes of group behavior with such complete disregard for the UCMJ and the safety of fellow Marines.
The opening scenes of Jarhead are less than convincing as the main character is harrassed by a drill instructor who somehow manages to get away with sporting a moustache. Small detail but an inaccurate one, from any of the USMC drill instructors I ever saw. The actor appears to try desperately to follow in the foot steps of R. Lee Ermey of The Boys in Company C, Full Metal Jacket, Mail Call and the real U.S. Marine Corps. The behavior is not far off the mark (as any bruised-up Third Battalion Parris Island recuit can tell you) but the acting is not quite convincing.
Throughout the movie the main character whines and moans about what a raw deal life has given him, and he frequently throws childish temper tantrums. If these were the actual real-life antics of this "Marine" then it surprises me that boot camp did not successfully weed him out or that he was not eventually sent home with a Section 8 or Bad Conduct Discharge. And yes, there WAS a designated way to deal with psychological issues: it was called the Chain of Command/Company First Sergeant, Chaplain's Office (or tent in combat zones), Consolidated Substance Abuse Control Center, Family Advocacy, and the Base Psychiatrist. These and other resources were no mystery to any Marine during that era.
Not withstanding the over-exagerrated and almost mindless depiction of Marines (I assure you they are neither that ignorant, lawless, savage or ill-prepared, either as far back as the first Gulf War or today) Jarhead seems to entertain the basic idea of the meaning of life, somewhat along the same vein as The Thin Red Line and Apocalypse Now though approached from its own unique perspective. The character struggles with why he ever came into the Corps in the first place, cannot understand why he does not fit in, and grapples with the gnawing agony of wanting to make his mark in life. God knows that any Marine worth his salt can identify with the frustration of being restrained from doing what he or she was trained to do. It seems to be on this level where Jarhead earns points with those who give it higher ratings: it taps into the rudimentary psyche of almost every living human being. "Why am I here? What is it all worth? Will my existence count?" As a "war film" or documentary of the Marine Corps military subculture, however, Jarhead is WAY off track. Overall, this is a film that poses questions with no answers and provokes self-evaluation. Aside from that, it is only Hollywood and the rantings of an off-balance, almost criminally insane little non-hacking snot who completely missed the whole idea of what Marines are and why they do what they do. That's my first-hand experience.
Honor, integrity, valor, self-control, service before self...
One Jarhead's perspective..
Kyle Freemantle | Bellingham, WA | 03/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a little confused that there's so many user reviews complaining that Jarhead is 'a war movie without any war.' Well.. based on my own experiences as a Marine in our most recent trip to the sandbox, I'd say war without war sounds true to life. Jarhead isn't showing you what you'd like for Marines and servicemen to be; it's showing you what we ARE like. Yes, we're crude, vulgar, irreverent, and largely morally ambivelant. Mostly though, we're bored. 99.9% of war is waiting. Waiting for to go on patrol, waiting for patrol to be over, waiting to go on or off of guard duty, waiting to sleep, to wake up, to eat, to piss, to finally go home. That's how it was for my dad in Vietnam, for my cousins in the Gulf War, and for myself in Iraq last year. To some degree, that's how it's been for everyone, in every war. To quote this film, "Every war is different, every war is the same."
If you've been in the military, and especially if you've been deployed, this should all be sounding pretty familiar. If not, fine. I'd just ask that you consider what it is that would make you dislike this movie. Is it that you don't like the characters as they are portrayed? Or is it that you don't like the conflict between your preconceived notion of what a Marine 'should' be and what you're being shown?"
Underrated and Underappreciated - Welcome to the suck.
Cubist | United States | 03/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anticipation was high for Jarhead, the cinematic adaptation of Anthony Swifford's book of the same name about his experiences as a U.S. foot soldier in the first Persian Gulf War. The reaction to the movie was underwhelming to say the least as critics savaged it and audiences stayed away. Something was definitely in the air as the film also failed to pick up any nominations or awards at any of the important ceremonies (Golden Globes, Oscars, et al). Was the film really that bad or had it just been marketed wrong? Or, was it simply the victim of our current political climate?
Jarhead is a film filled with striking images captured wonderfully by director of photography Roger Deakins. For example, Swofford and his platoon come across oil wells burning out of control, oil raining down on them. At night, they continue to burn providing the only light, and coupled with downpour of oil, looks like some kind of nightmarish vision of hell.
Critics complained that nothing happened in the movie but wasn't that the point? The first Gulf War was typified by highly trained soldiers ready to kill who, for the most part, did nothing because it was predominantly a conflict fought in the air by extensive bombing that ended the war as quickly as it did. Jarhead encapsulates this notion well in a scene where Swoff and Troy are ordered to sniper two high ranking Iraqi officers and at the penultimate moment when they are given the go-ahead to kill they are ordered to stand down so that an air strike can come in and literally steal their thunder. This scene pretty much sums up the experience for a lot of soldiers over there.
Sure, there are the unavoidable comparisons to the boot camp sequences in Full Metal Jacket to the ones in Jarhead but so what? No film lives in a vacuum and those scenes are only a small part of the movie and it soon settles into its own rhythm. The film that Jarhead most lives under the shadow of is Three Kings with its mixture of biting satire and horrific imagery of the madness of war, except that Jarhead ends where Three Kings begins. This is a film about humanity (or, rather the loss of it) and not an epic battle of good vs. evil that perhaps people were expecting. Jarhead is purposely anti-climatic. We won the war but what did we do to win it and why? And more importantly, what were we doing there? By that extension, we should also be asking the same questions about its sequel - one that we are still fighting and paying for.
"Swoff's Fantasies" feature four deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Sam Mendes and editor Walter Murch. This is footage of Swofford's inner, fantasy life that was shown briefly in the actual movie but more was actually shot (and even more figured in the book).
"News Interviews in Full" features more footage of Swoff and his platoon being interviewed by the media with optional commentary by Mendes and Murch. The director mentions that he let the actors adlib their answers to the pre-arranged questions.
Also included are 11 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Mendes and Murch. Of note is a scene with Sam Rockwell who plays Swoff's uncle and is in the Marines. Mendes and Murch do an excellent job of explaining why this footage was cut and are candid in what stuff just didn't work.
There is an audio commentary by Mendes who didn't want to overthink the camerawork or go for the meticulously staged compositions as he did with his previous movies and instead opted for a looser look with extensive hand-held camerawork. This is a very strong track as he defends his choices and tells all kinds of good anecdotes.
There is another commentary track by screenwriter William Broyles, Jr. and author Anthony Swofford. Broyles served in the Vietnam War and so these two war veterans talk with absolute authority about the authenticity of this movie. It's great to listen to Broyles and Swofford - two men who've been through what we are watching.
On the Collector's Edition version are included three documentaries.
First up, is the "Jarhead Diaries." Mendes provides an introduction where he states his distaste of electronic press kits (finally!) and so he had a documentary crew film more peripheral stuff and gave the actors their own cameras to shoot whatever they wanted. The actors are refreshingly candid about their feelings making this movie as they are going through the actual experience.
"Semper Fi" takes a look at four Marines who came home from the First Gulf War and from the current one. Anthony Swofford interviews these guys and has them talk about what their experiences were like over there and what their life is like now. Because he is also a veteran, he is able to get them to open up a bit. These are pretty sobering accounts as we listen to how hard it is for them to just turn off their combat training once they come back home.
Finally, there is "Background," a documentary about the extras who played anonymous Marines in the background of scenes. is a fascinating snapshot of their experiences."
A Day In The Life of
Gloria J. Green | Southeastern Oklahoma | 03/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a retired Sergeant First Class from the U.S. Army. I didn't get a chance to see the movie at the theater but I bought the DVD yesterday. Personally I thought it was a great movie. There was a great deal of reality to it. Soldiers, Sailors, Airman or Marine, it matters not. You have some that act totally ignorant in certain situations to help cope with stress while others just deal better with it. I've seen it in many forms over my 21 years of Active Duty. I don't think it shed a bad light on the USMC, because these troops didn't act much differently then some of the Vietnam troops did. If you're a warmonger and want to see a lot of action this is not the movie for you, but if you are interested in the day to day or A Day In The Life of kind of movie that shows how a person or typically a servicemember grows this is the one for you. The language is what it used to be like in the Army until they started changing the regulations. The movie took me back to my Army days. I loved it!"
Fills Us in with Operation Desert Storm
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 05/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Jarhead" is a marine expression that describes a recruit as an open vessel waiting to be filled by the commanders that be and by the haircut that makes the marine look like one. The movie is a recollection of the first Persian Gulf War, told from the point of view of Private Anthony Swofford (who wrote the book, but is played by Jake Gyllenhall) and his trek from marine recruit until the end of Operation Desert Storm. The war only lasted six weeks, and his contributions only four days, but the process he undergoes is absorbing. "Swoff" undergoes initiation and later reluctance until he meets his command leader Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Fox) who gets him ready. His biggest challenge is keeping a fellow marine in check (Fowler, an ex-con) who seems unstable at best and incorrigible at worst.
The movie isn't as intense as the most acclaimed war movies, but it isn't less insightful. We are given a palpable reality. The scenes show the urgency of missing women, the boredom and agony of anticipation, and the wild comraderie in all its details. The best scenes are when the narrative focuses on Swoff separate from his brigade and he shares his inner angst. The dream sequence tells more than any scene and has a surreal stream-of-consciousness effect. We also get a first-person feel to when they have to play football in the grueling 112 degree heat. Other revelations are done well, too. For instance, their frenzy is present when watching "Apocolyse Now". There's an interview scene where Swoff and others show their reluctance to follow the military's command to keep silence about the downside of being a recruit. (They're just brimming to tell it like it is.) Later, Swoff gets into big trouble during a holiday party where he shares contraband liquor. The war itself, for all its brevity, in the movie and in real life, just tells the unvarnished truth. It shows the war, like any war, in all its mundane horror. Swoff leaves us with some concrete thoughts about how his experience changed him forever.
"Jar Head" is a good movie experience. It feels genuine. The performances are fine, too. Gyllenhall makes the experience authentic, and the supporting cast is believable throughout. Jamie Fox, in particular, shows an acting range here that makes us appreciate his other contributions. (His Oscar for "Ray" seems all the more deserving after seeing this film.) The music and other atmospherics help to create a solid movie--even if it doesn't brim with suspense. Overall, it doesn't try to sensationalize anything. (3 1/2-4 stars)