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Overall Rating
3.29

Awesome: 16.67%
Worth A Look31.94%
Average: 27.08%
Pretty Bad: 12.5%
Total Crap: 11.81%

14 reviews, 60 user ratings


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Jarhead
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by U.J. Lessing

"War as Boredom: What a Concept"
5 stars

A couple of years back, a Class 5 tornado ripped through northern Kansas about 10 miles from my house. Watching the bruised sky and seeing the signs of impending destruction left me terrified, but also strangely elated at being a part of something so rare, devastating, and oddly graphic. These feelings endured for the length of the tornado warning: roughly an hour and a half. It’s unfathomable to think what it would be like to feel that way all the time, but ‘Jarhead’ comes close to capturing it.

The film is based on a popular bestselling autobiography and follows Anthony ‘Swoff’ Swofford’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) journey as a marine. Swafford, a third-generation soldier, starts out in boot camp in 1988, and abruptly finds himself in the middle of a desert outside of Kuwait as a sniper in Operation Desert Shield, an undertaking that left soldiers in the dark about whether they would be gassed, shot, shelled or rendered useless by a relentless allied technological air assault.

Here, in this lifeless barren landscape of the Saudi Arabian desert, Swafford endures terror of an impending combat, intense heat and equally intense boredom. All three are a perilous combination. Together, they breed homesickness, irrationality, a violent sort of introspection, and contemplations of infidelities back home.

Jarhead is an apolitical movie, a wise move considering that soldiers’ must be apolitical in order to be effective at what they do. Director, Sam Mendez focuses on the paradoxes that soldiers face instead of constructing a moral ideology. Themes include the fear of combat juxtaposed with the craving to be in combat, the apprehension of killing versus the longing to kill, and the contempt soldiers feel for each other versus the intimate relationships they share.

Mendez beautifully intertwines these themes into one unifying and terrifying analysis of what Gulf War soldiers faced (and still face) every day. Each character struggles with what the future holds for him.

The men in Swofford’s squad cope with this question in different ways. Soldiers talk, joke, lose their cool, fight, rebel, swear and watch war movies (they cheer along with ‘Apocalypse Now’ like it was ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show), while the imminent war looms over their heads like an ugly gale.

Clever and alluring performances further drive the film. Jake Gyllenhaal is required to be in almost every shot. His performance is technically stunning (Gyllenhaal embodies the skills, vigor and inner strength of a marine.) Peter Sarsgaard is perfectly cast as Troy, Swofford’s friend and mentor.

With ‘Jarhead’, Jamie Foxx finishes chipping away the public’s memory of his comedian persona. As Swofford’s Sergeant, Foxx presents a cool-as-a-cucumber career soldier who is reliable, passionate, and enigmatic.

‘Jarhead’ reaches its crescendo when Operation Desert Shield becomes Operation Desert Storm. I won’t reveal what happens, but let’s just say it’s not the type of climax commonly shown in war movies. ‘Jarhead’ manages to avoid clichés, remain entrancing, and present a side of war never offered before by Hollywood: a side that hundreds of thousands of American troops are experiencing right now.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13464&reviewer=396
originally posted: 11/04/05 14:09:19
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell good acting good production values dull as dishwater 2 stars
6/22/10 Aaron Two of my grandparents and my uncle were mariens, in every way this movie is total garbage 1 stars
12/19/09 Jeff Wilder Good not great. Pacing off. But characters well defined. 4 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* A straight foward movie about how desert shield/storm really was. I wanted more sniping!!!! 4 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner This ones ok. 3 stars
6/12/08 PAUL SHORTT AS MUCH AS IT SEEKS TO BREAK NEW GROUND, IT FEELS CALCULATED 1 stars
4/25/08 Karrie Millheim I thought it was a good story and the guys are hot 4 stars
4/22/08 mr.mike Did they think being a marine would be a picnic? 3 stars
8/06/07 Hello Stranger takes another view on war. and it works. a bit tedious though 4 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Good picture of the horrors of war, but it was supposed to be a movie. 3 stars
12/14/06 Phil M. Aficionado Really compelling as a "slice of life as war" portrayal; excellent production values, too 4 stars
11/05/06 A Concerned Citizen It's the one war film that describes the war in it's entirety, similar to Full Metal Jacket 5 stars
11/02/06 Patsyc Not as good as I thought it would be. It was interesting to see the life of a marine there 3 stars
10/25/06 Drew G Great movie, not sure what type of people the haters are... 5 stars
10/13/06 TJ Absolutely sucked. I saw it last night for the first time. A total waste.Don't bother! 1 stars
9/21/06 Chris Hately Great film. Oh, and Bill Hicks is the best comedian of our times. 4 stars
9/14/06 Mara Frost Good movie, Jake Gyllenhaal gives the best performance of his career 4 stars
9/12/06 matt pretty funny, good visuals 4 stars
5/28/06 daveyt story about tedium and pointlessness, told likewise. Jake was good though 3 stars
4/27/06 jana newton I loved this movie 5 stars
4/27/06 Indrid Cold I guess the Gulf War was boring and pointless, but so is the movie about it. 3 stars
4/25/06 Ken Muir Too much needless profanity. Vacuous content. 1 stars
4/24/06 Ry no story.... 2 stars
4/17/06 Jung Texican Decent documentary maybe, instead a film made hollow by its empty story 2 stars
3/24/06 mike waste of time, movie about garbage and marines being gay! not cool at all 1 stars
3/09/06 Wiseman Watch Saving Private ryan instead, I really regret I bought this movie. 1 stars
3/08/06 Katie Interesting look at the life of soldiers. 3 stars
2/06/06 gladys it was a waste of time..boring!! 1 stars
1/13/06 cooler mendes was always overrated and this proves it 1 stars
1/08/06 Bob Great performances, some fantastic imagery and a nice new take on war. 5 stars
12/11/05 J.K. Claire The best movie ever about war and mind. 5 stars
12/08/05 Sharon This movie was degrading to the military. My husband is a veteran and was appalled. 1 stars
12/05/05 B. McDaniel This film sucked - Don't bother 2 stars
11/30/05 M. Ritter, Marine Wife Marines sacrifice so much for us, what a slap in the face to Marines and their wives! 1 stars
11/29/05 Phlyer2 Discredits Brave Martines-Shameful! 1 stars
11/28/05 Elizabeth S Absolutely riveting, and Saarsgard should get a supporting nom. 5 stars
11/25/05 baseball-nut Not a bad movie....I'd suggest you wait and rent it at Blockbuster! 3 stars
11/24/05 Dustin Geist It was good half way through but after about half way the interesting just dropped. 1 stars
11/23/05 Jessica Holland I absolutely loved this movie, i think it is great for people to see!!!! 5 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Cooper and Foxx are fantastic. Sarsgaard great as usual. Screenplay blows. 4 stars
11/21/05 Brianna Schroeter I came out wondering what it was I missed. I'm not sure if I did. It's just too easy. 3 stars
11/18/05 Judy it's really good, just not for those people that only go to watch people get blown up. 4 stars
11/17/05 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Slow and Bloody Boring 1 stars
11/14/05 Lanie Richardson it was different, but definitely worth a trip to the theater. 4 stars
11/13/05 Todd a very different kind of war movie, but well worth a look. 5 stars
11/12/05 "K" More Anti-American BS from the director of the highly anti-American "American Beauty" 1 stars
11/11/05 wes excellent view of what marine life is actually like... a little exaggerated at times 5 stars
11/10/05 Sean COMPLETE PILE OF CRAP 1 stars
11/09/05 Linden Groves not for friends of W 4 stars
11/08/05 Jeff Hella fucking good 5 stars
11/07/05 jcjs so so; ain't no DeerHunter, Apacolypse, Platoon, Born on 4th.pretty tame barely 'WorthALook 4 stars
11/07/05 bentable zzzzzzzzzzzzzz 2 stars
11/07/05 KingNeutron Disturbing and thought-provoking. 4 stars
11/07/05 Eric Weisman,M.D. I'm surprised this one played in our local theater, I loved it. 5 stars
11/07/05 Zigga This movie was tight man! don't watch it if your ONLY expecting a Blackhawk down paprt 2 5 stars
11/07/05 Naka Nope. 2 stars
11/06/05 othree Prob a good book someone made 2 movie, funny, kinda late gettin ready 4 war their never in 4 stars
11/06/05 Marine Family This movie was awful! It portrayed Marines as idiots who had no purpose nor conviction. 1 stars
11/06/05 jeff no plot, good acting, dont really c the point of this movie!! i recommend it 4 stars
11/05/05 John Gordon What a let down, clearly written by someone who hated the Marines, Great for anit war movem 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  04-Nov-2005 (R)
  DVD: 07-Mar-2006

UK
  13-Jan-2006 (15)

Australia
  09-Feb-2006




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