On the surface Jarhead appears to be a war film based upon the 1991 Gulf War. In fact, it’s actually about the men of a Marine unit and how the military affected them. It’s a very powerful portrayal.
What’s so interesting about Jarhead is that it completely different from any other war film. It starts with the dehumanization of basic training and the boys’ club mentality of it. Then the Marines get sent to Kuwait but it’s all about the waiting for the war. The training, the girlfriends that break up with them while they’re gone, etc. When the war finally starts the team doesn’t even see any action.
The film making in that part is remarkable. There are wide open deserts, destroyed Iraqi vehicles, burning oil fields that lead to raining oil. At one point it looks like they’re living in hell. I don’t know how they pulled that off with minimal special effects but they did.
Overall Jarhead is a pretty amazing movie. Even though the war is actually not what it’s about it’s a great story of men in the military.