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Jarhead [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
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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 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.
Based on Anthony Swoffords excellent memoir about his experiences as a Marine Sniper in Gulf War I, Jarhead is a war movie in which the waiting is a far greater factor upon the characters than the war itself, and the build up to combat is more drama than what combat is depicted. To some viewers hoping for typical movie action, this will seem like a cruel joke. But its not. Its just the story as it was written, and if you liked the book, you will probably like the movie. If you didnt, then the movie wont change your mind.
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 --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
It was apparent in the book, and carries over to the film that Swofford has a chip on his shoulder - something he'll most likely readily admit. He has a 'bad attitude', and in fact revels in it. One wonders if this is a product of his war experiences, his Marine Corps training, or his upbringing. At one point his mother, who never really liked the idea of her son being in the Marines, but who wouldn't stand in her son's way, said 'I lost my baby boy when you went to war.' She described Swofford as being sweet and gentle prior to that, and angry and unhappy afterwards. One wonders how much of a change is there - if one can take the stories at face value, this is the same boy who had a fist-fight with his father over going in the Corps at the age of 17, and who had Marine Corps decals put on his shirts as a child. One of his drill instructors even gave Swofford what he considered a great compliment - 'you'll be a great killer someday.'
I make the caveat that one might not be able to take all of this at face value, because like many men in this kind of situation, Swofford is likely to exaggerate - making some pieces more dramatic and other pieces less so.Read more ›
After a brief sequence depicting the brutal humiliation Swofford endured during Boot Camp, as well as his subsequent training as a sniper, his platoon is subsequently deployed to Saudi Arabia. With frequent rousing speeches -- heavily imbued with American propaganda -- the men are eager to see combat and make their first kill.
But they must first play a waiting game, as the film focuses on their interminable boredom and the difficulty in maintaining relationships with wives and girlfriends back home. Nearly six months pass before the war begins which, for Swofford, lasts a mere four days; as he laments, "I never shot my rifle..."
The screenplay by William Broyles Jr. captures Swofford's sardonic tone and shoots through a series of events. But it fails to convey the author's constant fear of attack or his increasing doubt about his chosen role. In fact, the entire story is rather pointless, but that may very well be Swofford's point. However, by not taking a pro-war or anti-Bush platform, the film accomplishes nothing and suffers as a result.
While Jarhead attempts to do for the Gulf War what Platoon did for Vietnam, it has none of the latter's horror, edge or emotion. And the eclectic soundtrack accentuates the film's inability to define itself.
Director Sam Mendes portrays the Marines as rugged but, for the most part, vacuous. More a character study than a chronicle of war, Mendes chills the viewer with images of charred refugees and rains of oil from blazing wells.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Was an excellent movie, not much action but i recommend the movie to anyone that likes a very good drama.Published 16 months ago by MOVIES
I was surprised how vulgar the movie was and very dissippointed. If this is what soldiers are like then keep it to themselves, cause I felt bad they were shown in this light. Read morePublished on Dec 7 2012 by Marlene Eisnor
i had no interest in seeing jar head prior to watching it.judging by
all the previews,i thought it would be just another boring war movie,at
best. Read more
This movie blew me away. It is an excellent example of what hollywood can do when they get the right pieces in place. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2006 by Katsurina
Oh my god, this is the most borring and pathetic war movie I have ever seen. Poor Story, Poor acting (from most of the guys), poor action. Read morePublished on March 11 2006
Sam Mendes has created a contemporary war classic, in the tradition of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and ‘Platoon’. Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2006 by Jeffrey LeBlanc
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