Jarhead (Widescreen Edition)
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The movie follows the trajectory of Swofford (played with thoughtful intensity by Jake Gyllenhaal) from wayward Marine recruit (he joined because he "got lost on the way to college") to skilled Marine sniper, and on into the desert in preparation for the attack on Iraq. No-nonsense, Marine-for-life Staff Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Foxx), the man who recruited Swofford and his spotter Troy (Peter Sarsgaard) into the sniper team, leads them in training, and in waiting where their lives are dominated by endless tension, pointless exercises in absurdity (like playing football in the scorching heat of the desert in their gas masks so it will look better for the medias TV cameras), more training, and constant anticipation of the moment to come when theyll finally get to kill. When the war does come, it moves too fast for Swoffords sniper team, and the one chance they get at a kill--to do the one thing theyve trained so hard and waited so long for--eludes them, leaving them to wonder what was the point of all they had endured.
As directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), the movie remains very loyal to the language and vision of the book, but it doesnt entirely work as the film needs something more than a literal translation to bring out its full potential. Mendess stark and, at times, apocalyptic visuals add a lot and strike the right tone: wide shots of inky-black oil raining down on the vast, empty desert from flaming oil wells contrasted with close-ups of crude-soaked faces struggling through the mire vividly bring to life the meaning of the tagline "welcome to the suck." But much of the second half of the movie will probably leave some viewers feeling disappointed in the cinematic experience, while others might appreciate its microcosmic depiction of modern chaos and aimlessness. Jarhead is one of those examples where the book is better than the movie, but not for lack of trying. --Dan Vancini
Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If this is how American military forces work; I fear for this Country of ours. It is no wonder why so many of our soldiers return with psychological problems; if this is a veridic... Read morePublished 12 days ago by anyone
it is a great depiction of what soldiers in the field go through on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. It is a true account by Anthony Swofford. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Amazon Customer
A gripping movie that gets inside the head of a soldier. The extreme stress is clearly seen and felt. Well acted and directed. A very immersive story.Published 27 days ago by Teri S. Hanright
No personal experience in the marines but over all my experience during Desert/Shield somewhat similar in respect to train up and waiting for ground "war" to reception when... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mr
Purchased based on Jarhead 2. Totally different kind of movie. Not a single combat action sequence. FYIPublished 1 month ago by Kenton Kirkpatrick
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