Jarhead

"Excellent"

Jarhead Review


From the quiet perch of the homeland, Operation Desert Storm was an anti-climactic blowout. Billed by Saddam Hussein as the "Mother of All Battles," it looked an awful lot like a rout by American air power followed by a hasty Iraqi retreat from Kuwait.

The experience of Marines on the ground, however, bore little resemblance to the precision bombing the public saw on CNN. For the men of the Corps, life in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait consisted of disgust, boredom, foreboding, anxiety, and blinding fear, a toxic combination that made for one of the best reads of 2004, Anthony Swofford's memoir Jarhead.

Fourteen years removed from Saddam's defeat, Sam Mendes' cinematic adaptation of Jarhead proves worthy and faithful, capturing the brutal camaraderie of young men on a mission far from home. Through the eyes of "Swoff," a reluctant third-generation Marine, these impressionable warriors advance through training and find themselves in a war they never imagined.

As Swoff, a shockingly buff Jake Gyllenhall discovers the killing machine within, thanks to the psychological reinforcement of his staff sergeant (Jamie Foxx) and his brothers in heavy arms. When Saddam annexes Kuwait, Swoff and his platoon take up residence in the blistering Persian Gulf region, where they're psyched up for battle by each other and a pep-talky lieutenant colonel (Chris Cooper, playing a prequel to his character from Mendes' American Beauty).

Jarhead is deeply conscious both of past wars and past war movies, and you'll be excused if you occasionally feel like you're watching Son of Full Metal Jacket, especially in the tragic/hilarious basic training and battle staging segments. And you'll be excused from laughing violently when Sarge orders his boys to play a pickup football game in their chemical suits for visiting press, and the game devolves into a simulated homosexual orgy.

While the performances are strong across the board, the casting skews curiously old. In Jarhead the book, Swofford tries to convince us that one of the world's most dangerous creatures is the 19-year-old kid trained by the mighty American military, but hardly anyone in Jarhead the feature film appears fresh out of high school, or even law school. Peter Saarsgard, as Swoff's sniper partner Troy, particularly looks like he could have a son in JROTC. And while the characters are rich and diverse, even Swoff, the first-person narrator, consciously avoids developing his own background. So don't worry about the casualties of war; you don't really get to know these dudes anyway, except that the desert is driving them crackers.

What's more likely to stick with you is the environment. Mendes' war-choked Gulf region is an ocean of sand and dust, pockmarked and stained black by explosives from above. Venturing deep into the burning oilfields, Swoff's platoon walks and sleeps in Hell. "The earth is bleeding," Swoff mutters. And the horrors are only beginning.

The oil fires are only part of what make Jarhead, if not a classic war film, at least a top-notch and engrossing imitation of one.



Jarhead

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th November 2005

Box Office USA: $62.6M

Box Office Worldwide: $96.9M

Budget: $70M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Red Wagon Entertainment, Neal Street Productions, Motion Picture KAPPA Produktionsgesellschaft

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 120 Rotten: 76

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Staff Sgt. Sykes, as Anthony Swofford, as D.I. Fitch, as Kruger, as Alan Troy, as Ramon Escobar, as Lt. Col. Kazinski, as Fergus O'Donnell, Damion Poitier as Poitier, as Corporal Harrigan, Jocko Sims as Julius, Ming Lo as Bored Gunny, Kevin Foster as Branded Marine, Riad Galayini as Nurse, Craig Coyne as Young Mr. Swofford, Katherine Randolph as Young Mrs. Swofford, Honorine Bell as Swoff's Sister, as Mrs. Swofford, as Mr. Swofford

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.