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Jarhead (DVD)

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Genre: War & Western - War / Theatrical Release: 2005 / Director: Sam Mendes / Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Wade Williams ... / DVD released 15 May, 2006 at Universal Pictures Video / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    23 Reviews
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      03.03.2014 20:52

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      A glimpse into the life of someone at war

      Ladies! If what you want to see is Jake Gyllenhaal half naked, watch this film! You'll love it. Originally the only reason I decided to watch this film was for my favourite actor Jake Gyllenhaal, if this too is your only reason for watching it, you will not be disappointed.

      Half naked men in uniform aside, what is the actual film like? I actually quite enjoyed it. It has a good storyline behind it and the feeling of confusion as to why the are in a war zone and not actually fighting for the first so many days is portrayed in a way that leaves the viewer feeling confused too. It becomes more clear later on that the reason for them being there is to prepare them for the harsh conditions of the weather in the desert, ready for when they do actually go into combat. But along with this there is also a feeling of disappointment as to why they are put though such harsh conditions and challenges that could have maybe been prevented.

      The film follows the lives of Jarheads (Marines) and what it would be like for them from training to combat and life after combat.

      All in all this is a great film but I feel that the ending could have been a bit better. The viewer is left with unanswered questions and confusion.

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      17.06.2012 17:29
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      I would definatly recommend this to any fan of the Action or War genre.

      This is a film about the USMC (United States Marine Corps) it follows the trials and experiences that Anthony Swofford also know as Swoff, has to go through. It follows him on his journey from the safe environment of boot camp to the harsh realities of War. The movies title comes from the typical Marines "High and Tight" haircut.

      Admittedly some people may not appreciate the reasoning behind the film being "slow to start", this is the case because it not only shows the adrenaline pumping action but also the tedious duty while waiting for action.

      This film has become really cheap recently, yet it is still one of my favorites. If you are into the "War and Action" genre, then you are guaranteed to love this movie! Although if you're looking for a movie packed full of action, then I most likely wouldn't recommend this to you. Just a side note for parents, the movie is not graphic at all, but it does contain a lot of swearing, so bare that in mind.

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        06.04.2010 09:39
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        Overall, an entertaining movie and Jake Gyllenhaal is fantastic

        Jarhead was released about five years now and like so many other war films does portray the reality of war and a young man hell bent on signing up and defending his country unaware of just what he will find when he gets there. We identify with the soldiers and the situation they find themselves in. However, it's not over loaded with action although there are several war scenes. It is more military orientated than war orientated.

        The setting for this film is the backdrop of the Gulf War in the early 1990's. The movie is based on a novel by Anthony Swofford and focuses on his experiences as a sniper serving in Kuwait during this time. Swofford is played expertly by the great Jake Gyllenhaal and he is fantastic as he normally is with his down to earth demeanour and is serious when he needs to be and the right times. He both loved and hated the war he was a part of in equal measure. The whole movie is basically his experiences in boot camp and into war and is mixed with triumph, acheivement and tragedy which you'd associate with all war movies.

        The troop he is part of started as guards for the oil fields in Kuwait and didn't initially expect to see or get anywhere near the front line and the action. However, each of them longed for a chance to do what they were trained by and that is kill the enemy and therefore were disillusioned as to the terror of war. As with alot of war stories we go inside the minds of the soldiers who are the main characters in this story and learn for ourselves their dreams. They form bonds that are so strong they will not be broken easily.

        There are many characters in this movie, but the three main roles belong to Staff sergeant Sykes played by Jamie Foxx, Anthony Swofford played by Jake Gyllenhall and Peter Sarsgaard as Troy. Jake Gyllenhall really takes over the screen with his performance. He comes across at times as slightly insane and at other moments witty with a very dry sense of humour.

        Overall, this was an entertaining movie in my opinion set in the bleak barren landscape that represented this war. If you're after a non-stop action movie with continuous fighting then this is not the film for you but instead focuses more on the well being and state of mind of the soldiers involved.

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        14.01.2010 14:05
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        A refreshing war film that does not focus on the action seen in war. Great performances from all.

        --PLEASE NOTE: THIS REVIEW IS ALSO ON CIAO, UNDER MY USERNAME "MONSOONBABY88."--

        There are many films in the war genre that show the terror, and deglamorisation of war, but none truly convey the apathy and boredom like Sam Mendes' "Jarhead" does.

        Jarhead is based on the book of the same name, which brings together memoirs from former marine Anthony Swofford. War was not a good memory for him, instead he remembers the boredom, and the uselessness of his abilities with such bitterness. The title, Jarhead, comes from a slang term for Marines, which Marines themselves often use. It is available to pick up in most places for around £3-4 on DVD now.

        The film accurately follows Swoffords time in the U.S. marines. Set in 1989 in the first Gulf War, Marine Anthony Swofford has recently completed training, and finds himself accompanying fellow soldiers into the Persian Gulf. Swofford has been assigned as a sniper, and finds himself constantly alert, waiting for his successful shot which unfortunately for him, never comes.

        The start, where Swofford is shown in an intense U.S. Marine Corps Boot Camp is remisicent of Full Metal Jacket, with a similiar drill instructor character giving out his brutal orders to his Marines. It is here that Swofford meets Sgt. Sykes (a brilliant performance by Jamie Foxx), a lifer who is hard hitting on the marines. After completing their training, Swofford and his fellow marine buddies find themselves whisked off to the Gulf where they're expected to put their training to the test. But nothing ever happens. Instead, we see the Jarhead marines drinking endless amounts of water, and cleaning out toilets for their superiors.

        Jake Gyllenhaal bulks up for his role of Swofford, and it is his performance that truly shows the resentment and apathy that the marines are feeling. Swoffords narration is what carries the film, and reflects the changing opinions of the serving marines. At the beginning, we hear an excited, fit and ready Swofford, who just wants a piece of the action. By the time he has settled into the desert and experienced the lack of activity, Swofford's narration has turned cynical, and rather skeptic. Although Gyllenhaal's performance is top notch, it is Peter Sarsgaard as Swofford's spotter Troy that steals the show. Troy is a marine who is burying away his anger, until in one rather tense scene, we finally see him explode. It is Peter Sarsgaard who truly shows how feeling useless and bored can really affect you when you are stuck in a desert. The film gives us the feeling that the marines were fighting for nothing, and the anger, apathy and frustration really shine through.

        Although I personally found Jarhead to be an excellent entry into the war genre, I can understand why some people may not enjoy this. Due to the marines lack of military action, not much really happens, and the odd scene or two does drag a little bit. People who prefer their usual war film packed with gun fire, explosions and deaths will probably prefer to watch something like Saving Private Ryan.

        At one point in the film, Sgt. Sykes tells Swofford that he prefers being out in the war rather than family life. For most of these marines, the war brings them escapism, and once the war is over, they're snapped back into reality. Although they're not doing much out here in the desert, this escapism is what they live for, an escape from their problematic, mundane, normal life. They crave excitement, a chance to fire their gun and release their frustrations, but sadly they do not get to satisfy their cravings. Overall, Jarhead is quite a bleak film. Many of these marines, including Swofford himself, find they do not have a place in society where they feel they truly fit in. Bringing them together under the marines sort of brings them into their own family unit. This is what Jarhead is truly about: the apathy that cannot be escaped, wherever they go.

        Littered with black humour, a bitter narration from Swofford, intense, touching performances, and an undenying anger, Jarhead is a very unique war film that does not rely on the use of action scenes. Unlike previous war films, the only explosions we see are of the nearby oil rigs setting alight, not of the actual war itself. The only time the guns are fired are when the soldiers finally get to release their frustrations, but that is only when the war is declared over. Deaths are avoided, and the only one we see happens in the boot camp, rather than in the warzone. Jarhead is a gritty, bleak, and apathetic account on life in the war, and a welcome, refreshing entry into the war genre.

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        12.12.2009 10:07
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        A funny satirical film on modern warfare

        This is a film about the American Marines, following Anthony 'Swoff' Swofford (Gylenhaal) as the third generation of his family to enlist, through the gruelling training and boot camps into real active duty. Jarhead is the term Marines call themselves.

        The film follows Swoff and his fellow marines as they cope with Iraqi soldiers, incredible heat and ridiculous cocks up by their own side while carrying enormous rucksacks and wondering what it is they're actually fighting for.

        Cast:
        Jake Gyllenhaal ... Anthony Swofford
        Scott MacDonald ... D.I. Fitch
        Peter Sarsgaard ... Alan Troy
        Jamie Foxx ... Staff Sgt. Sykes
        Lo Ming ... Bored Gunny (as Ming Lo)
        Lucas Black ... Chris Kruger
        Kevin Foster ... Branded Marine
        Brian Geraghty ... Fergus O'Donnell
        Damion Poitier ... Poitier
        Riad Galayini ... Nurse
        Craig Coyne ... Young Mr. Swofford
        Katherine Randolph ... Young Mrs. Swofford
        Rini Bell ... Swoff's Sister
        Dendrie Taylor ... Mrs. Swofford
        James Morrison ... Mr. Swofford

        I liked the film, it would definitely get a 3 out of 5 for me, the main crux of it seemed to be the amount of pain and hassle these young soldiers go through to fight for things they don't understand, the film is honest in its portrayal of life in the Marines and in the desert, it is a darkly comic film as the Marines use humour to cope with the trials and tribulations of each day, the action sequences are decent and the acting is good with Peter Saarsgard in particular on good form as a grizzled seen it all soldier, I though the film was enjoyable and forgettable and was very similar to the book in most aspects, most especially the humour which is its best quality.

        The film lacks the cutting edge of Apocolypse Now and Platoon and in some ways feels outdated already.

        The DVD is available for £3.99 on Play.com

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          28.11.2009 01:18
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          A great war film

          note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room

          War films about the drudgery of war are nothing new: Platoon, Saving Private Ryan and many others have all done it well in their own way, but perhaps none better than Jarhead fully cements the boredom and apathy elicited by the lack of action in a war zone. The cabin fever makes the men party their lives away while waiting for the killing to happen, waiting on tenterhooks to kill someone while it never happens. Instead, they spend most of their time sitting around and cleaning out the toilets for their superiors.

          The film revolves around Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal), a wet around the ears marine who just finished boot camp and is the butt of many of the seasoned recruit's jokes. He meets the likes of confident and cool Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), and the charming Staff Sergeant Sykes (Jamie Foxx), but they cannot provide him with the answers he wants as to where the action is. Instead, they simply tell him to get used to "the suck" and so he mostly just stacks sandbags and runs around rough-housing with the other marines.

          Plenty of people seem to frequently miss the point of Jarhead and unfairly judge it as such, proclaiming "nothing happened" and that it's just a bit waste of time. However, they fail to realise that therein lies the genius of this film - it chronicles the mundane aspect of war, and the effects it has on the soldiers involved, depicting with a very grim reality how while soldiers can lose their lives to bullets, they can also lose it other ways. Wildly engrossing and gloomy, with Sam Mednes's typically attentive direction, Jarhead is well worth watching.

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          10.11.2009 13:01
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          Definatly worth watching

          Some people gave this film a hard time, complaining that it was boring...they clearly do not understand the point the film is trying to make. I personally loved this moview, thinking it was a bit different from the generic war films you tend to see, invloving a group of Americans killing thousands of people.
          The film focuses around a new recruit and his struggle through boot camp, to the deserts of Iraq in the first gulf war.
          The film shows how these men are trained to be killing machines, then when it comes down to the moment, all the killing is done via missiles and bombs, not that traditional foot soldier. The snipers end up devestated that they were unable to get their kill, and 'see the pink mist'. They are the sent home and expected to live normal lives.
          The acting in this film i though was very good. Jake Gyllenhaal was amazing whilst Jamie Foxx played an EXCELLENT captain (or sargent...not good with ranks).
          The book i found was better, i do not know why, i just preferred the book. The film is a very good interpretation of the book and i have seen much worse book to film conversions.

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            02.10.2009 02:38
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            Excellent film concentrating on scout snipers during the first Iraq conflict

            Films involving war often focus mainly on the fast talking drill instructor and then a whole load of fighting, death and glory. This may be a successful formula, but there are not enough films which depict the harsh brutality of what war can do to you mentally, or how the camaradery develops.

            Jarhead follows a group of scout snipers as they embark on their military journey at the beginning of the Iraq conflict at the beginning of the 1990s. The main focus is on Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal), as he meets drill instructor Staff Sgt Sykes, gets put through his paces and meets his 'crew', before they head off to Iraq in anticipation of some action.

            Essentially, the film follows them as they adapt to desert life, how they bond as a unit, and how the situation of not knowing when they may be required for battle affects them. Gyllenhaal in particular does a fantastic job of developing Swofford from a cocky yet naive rookie to a member of an elite sniper crew with a hardened war zone attitude. The fact that his happens in a matter of a mere few months is the bit that is easily glossed over, but the film gives constant on screen text reminders of how long they have been there, and how many troops are sent to Iraq at each stage.

            Yet the most powerful element of the film comes with showing how they deal with the mentality of the situation, and how the bonding they experience as 'brothers' and how they find their release for the building pressure that mounts on a daily basis. Some of the acting is fantastic in this respect, with Peter Sarsgaard, Lucas Black and Brian Geraghty combining really well with Gyllenhaal. Foxx is the link that keeps them all going, with his character managing to add a bit of lightheartedness and keeping things afloat just enough to keep the troops on the right side of sanity.

            The film also has an awesme soundtrack, with a mix of hip hop and ballad playing their parts in setting the scene and emphasising the situation. It's a well worked soundtrack that goes with a really enjoyable film. Sure, there's not a lot of action, but this isn't really the focus of the film. It aims at showing us what happens before the action, and amongst those stationed in far off locations, not knowing when conflict could impose itself on them. And it does a fabulous job of it as well.

            Jarhead is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £3.98. It's well worth the money, although I caught this on TV and so can't comment on the extras, as this is a film only review. I recommend you catch this if you can - it's a well worked film that entices you with a bit of familiar war film territory at the beginning before developing into a clever and riveting war drama. Top stuff.

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              08.08.2009 20:43

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              A really good film showing the emotional side of war

              Now I'm not entirely sure why, but I like this film and am going to get it on Bluray.

              So basic plot is... This film follows a US Marine Scout Sniper, Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal), showing some of the reality in the Marine Corp. It shows some of the emotional side of war with next to no action whatsoever.
              I have to say I do like this film and although most of my friends who have watched it reckon its rubbish, I disagree with all of them. There is a lack of action but there are some amusing moments and it is quite a moving piece of cinema compared to most war films, even those based upon World War II. It is also a decent length film of just over 2hrs and there is no lack of keeping you watching.
              I don't know how true the accounts portrayed are but it wouldn't surprise me if they were truthful. I like the emotional side but it did frustrate me that they didn't snipe anyone in the war. I did think the end was a bit rubbish and it did ruin it for me.
              Worth Bluray? I think so. I haven't viewed this on Bluray but I think the massive desert scenes and some other parts would benefit from a Bluray experience. Colour wise I would recommend a Bluray release to bring out the colours a hell of a lot better than DVD.

              Overall an absolutely great film and a bit of a different war film.

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              01.07.2009 21:04
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              A great film for those who enjoy war, without the war

              This film is in many ways more true to 'war' and the horrors of war than any I have seen. It documents the daily activities a soldier serving in Afganistan will face, and the fears they must conquer. Unusually, this involves no combat what so ever. In this film, the fears and horrors each soldier must face are of a physical and mental appearance. The fact they fail to witness any action is the key to their suffering. They are trained, trained again, and trained some more. They are told they are going to see death, destruction and horrific violence before being given the chance to avenge the innocent lives lost. But when the time comes, and they are denied that oppontunity, what do you expect their reaction to be?

              <--General Plot-->
              Actor Jake Gyllenhaal plays the star role, Anthony Swofford, a quiet, self-sufficient young soldier fresh from college and hoping to make something of himself through military means. He passes basic training and is shipped off to Afganistan to taste the soft, fruity flavour of valour on the glorious battlefields of the Middle-East. He makes some friends, some enemies and discovers the truth about his adord girl friend back home. Gyllenhaal performs some truely stunning scenes in which he captivates your mind with what must have gone through those soldiers heads in his position.

              <--Cast-->
              Jake Gyllenhaal ... Anthony Swofford
              Scott MacDonald ... D.I. Fitch
              Peter Sarsgaard ... Alan Troy
              Jamie Foxx ... Staff Sgt. Sykes
              Lo Ming ... Bored Gunny (as Ming Lo)
              Lucas Black ... Chris Kruger
              Kevin Foster ... Branded Marine
              Brian Geraghty ... Fergus O'Donnell
              Damion Poitier ... Poitier

              <--DVD Extras-->
              Commentary - Director Sam Mendes
              Commentary - Screenwriter William Broyles Jr and Author Anthony Swofford
              Swoff's Fantasies
              News Interviews in full (news interviews which were in the film)
              Deleted Scenes

              <--Conclusion-->
              A great film with some truely exceptional acting which succeeds in giving the whole movie a good feel. The feelings of the characters are put across in a way which viewers can relate to.

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                16.06.2009 12:02
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                7 out of 10 for me!

                Jarhead - A Gulf War film directed by Sam Mendes and starring Jake Gyllenhall and Jamie Fox. A young US Marine Sniper, Anthony Swofford (Gyllenhall) ,discovers the truth about fighting a war that has already been won by bombs from the air, not the troops on the ground.

                You find yourself willing Swofford to get a confirmed kill just to put a smile on his face. The feelings and aggression built up in these men is displayed in the best scene of the film, where Swofford is dancing around to Naughty By Nature's 'O.P.P' wearing just a Santa hat to cover his modesty.

                There are some really funny scence throughout the entire film and the acting of Jamie Fox despite being a Music Artists is surprisingly good and his goofy, clown-around nature booms out from the screen as his makes his troop do the most outrageous things!

                Quote from the film;

                'Suggested techniques for the marine to use in the avoidance of boredom and loneliness: Masturbation. Rereading of letters from unfaithful wives and girlfriends. Cleaning your rifle. Further masturbation. Rewiring Walkman. Arguing about religion and meaning of life. Discussing in detail, every woman the marine has ever f**ked. Debating differences, such as Cuban vs. Mexican, Harleys vs. Hondas, left- vs. right-handed masturbation. Further cleaning of rifle. Studying of phillipino mail order bride catalogue. Further masturbation. Planning of marine's first meal on return home. Imagining what a marine's girlfriend and her man Jody are doing in the hey, or in the alley, or in a hotel bed.'

                A Brilliant quote which lays some truth to the daily routines of the men on the ground, away from home Swofford receives a 'Dear John' letter from his girlfriend returning is tee-shirt he gave her, as a result of which her picture goes onto a 'wall of shame' for all of the women who ditched their men whilst then were at war.

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                15.06.2009 00:54
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                One Marine faces his own personal demons fighting to maintain his sanity as he waits for war!

                Jarhead is the movie adaptation of the book of the same name written by a Marine Sniper in the first Gulf War. I first read the book a few years ago and was less than impressed as, for much of the book, nothing much happened and it was as much about a soldier's experiences upon returning home as it was about attempting to cope with the pressures and horror of war. This being the case, I began watching the movie version the other night on one of the terrestial channels, with the anticipation of not expecting to enjoy the film overly much. In this I was mistaken for what failed to work in the written form, worked much much better in this visual context.

                Swofford, Donnie Darko's Jake Gyllenhaal, spends his first days of basic training wondering if he has made a mistake joining the Marines. Feigning an illness he thinks will get him removed from active service, he is instead rumbled by Staff Sergeant Sykes (played excellently by Jamie Foxx) who tricks him into recruiting for the Sniper's Unit. From here, following several scenes that are highly reminiscent of the classic Full Metal Jacket, the Marines are escorted out to Iraq in preperation for war as part of the proposed Operation Desert Shield. And here begins a waiting game that sees the Unit in constant training, being interviewed for their fellow Americans waiting back home and fighting their own unique breed of madness as each of the Marines find themselves slowly going insane- driven crazy by the sheer monotony that comes with each and every day.....

                As with the book, there is a lot of screen time where very little happens and, in fact, when combat does eventually arrive it is close to the movie's climax. But that does not mean that the rest of the movie isn't worth watching. Much of what we see here is exactly what it is really like for soldiers posted in this most barren of outposts, I have a friend in the Army who has done several tours in Iraq and swears to the film's authenticity, and so, unlike some movies that are all gung-ho and gun-fire everywhere, this is a much more accurate picture than we have ever seen before. What failed to work on paper, as I previously mentioned, quite literally comes to life here on the small screen and, unlike in the book, there is no time at all when you feel as though you are waiting for something to happen. Jake Gyllenhaal is totally convincing in his role and makes it his own with every scene he's in. And some of the visual set-pieces in the film are quite literally breath-taking, astounding and amazing. I am thinking, here, of scenes which see the Marines walking through Oil-fields that have been set on fire, black rain falling from the sky all around them as they patrol in formation.

                At just short of two hours, the film is just long enough and never strays into the territory of over-extending it's welcome. It also manages to depict it's message without once trying to lecture the viewer. Refusing to take a stance either way, the film is never anti or pro-war - instead choosing to remain both neutral and true to the book on which it is based. And this, without question, is the story that the book so wanted to tell and do it well!

                Director Sam Mendes, working closely together with the book's original author, has created a true masterpiece that ranks up there highly with some of the best modern war films of our time. Though recieving mixed reviews upon it's release, this is a movie that will simply get better with age and deserves to be regarded as a true classic that depicts a very true-to-life account of what it is to be a Jarhead!

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                  18.05.2009 14:44
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                  Boring, uninvolving and indifferent.

                  Despite some excellent performances and cinematography I found Jarhead to be an unimaginative take on material handled considerably better in Stanley Kubrick's far superior Full Metal Jacket.

                  One of the many problems with this film is that it is just a series of clichéd sketches and MTV style musical interludes showing the dehumanising process of becoming a soldier. In order for this to work you need to care about the main character which you won't due to the horribly miscast Jake Gyllenhal who comes across as largely inhuman anyway. His inability to move away from his quirky Donnie Darko persona detracts badly from the overall film and will probably ruin his career.

                  Another problem is the lack of battle sequences, whether as a backdrop to the story, or involving the main characters. I know the film is based on a real persons life, and also trying to make some sort of statement by not showing graphic fighting but this again ultimately ruins the film.

                  This is another in the seemingly endless line of "worthy" Hollywood statement films the problem being that the statement has been made too many times before by better directors.

                  Sam Mendes should return to the stage where I think his talents as a business man would be better suited.

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                  13.03.2009 19:57
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                  A modern war classic

                  Far away in the desert in Kuwait the only light you see is the glowing flames of oil fields burning. Anthony(Swof) Swifford, is covered in a slick, black coating of oil from the heavy drops falling from the smoke filled sky. He is walking through this lonely place when he encounters a tame horse, plodding slowly and breathing heavily. Its body is heavy with an extra black silky coat of oil. The US marine feels sympathy for the horse, strokes its mane and says, 'You're covered in this war.'

                  This one line describes everyone in the film, Jarhead, an uncomprisingly realistic movie about soldiers drenched in war. It consumes every bit of their lives. They live and breathe it, try to ignore it but they are unable to. It devours them and there is no way they can turn their back on it. It has made them into the men they are.

                  Jarhead is a film directed by Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition, American Beauty) which is based on the book of memoirs written by Anthony Swofford in 2003. The term, Jarhead is a slang word for a not too bright marine. The name referring to the shape of hat once worn by the US marines.

                  After finishing his training Swofford becomes part of Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia, as a scout sniper. Leaving his devoted girlfriend behind, he and his fellow marines focus their attention on preparing for war. For most of the film's runtime we see just this - a six month wait for the war to begin. They clean their ammunition, drink plenty of liquid, exercise, miss their loved ones, exercise and drink more liquid.

                  This is not an old style war movie where the day is saved. There is no discussion about politics - whether the US should be taking part in the war with Iraq. The film moves on from these issues and zooms in on the reality of all wars, the people who conduct them. It is their job whether they love or hate it. It is what they are paid to do. Like Mendes other films this story analyses the reasons why men choose this career. The film questions what it is like to be a soldier and how does war effect a soldier's life.

                  The thematic focus of Jarhead makes war and emotional disorder feel all too real and touchable. Jarhead's realism isn't involved in bloody battle scenes but more with showing us how these men actually feel. In fact, we don't get to see a lot of war combat. The battles we see are mental.

                  When we see action it is shown in a very ordinary and tedious way. In the only battle sequence, we see the main character going to get extra batteries. Not very courageous, is it? No civilians to save. No enemy towers to blow to bits. But in this story it is the boring things that make wars tick. Men like Swofford knew the boredom of war. For 175 days nothing much happened. They waited and waited in the scorching heat, sometimes playing football in full battle dress, to relieve their frustrations and boredom. When the war came it lasted for 4 days only and hardly any weapons were fired.

                  In the film Mendes takes the chance to search for the meaning of being a soldier and his existence. What is the point of being a soldier if you don't get to fight? How do any of them make sense of it all when they are taken away from everything they know and love? This path of discovery leads the director to show not just the frightfulness of war but how ugly man can become.

                  The actor playing Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) has a slight jocular view of the world but with a huge internal vacuum. This guy and his companions are searching for a meaning and their sanity. They are vacant, devoid of any emotion.

                  At the start of the film we see that Swofford doesn't have much to do with his family. He has no vocation or passion for anything except his girlfriend, Kristina. He is obsessed with having sex with her. There is no explanation in the film why he joins the marines. Perhaps it was the only path he could take or a member of his family had been a marine. We never really find out.

                  When Kristina is no longer by his side because of the war, he suffers an emotional breakdown. He is taunted by dreams of her and can't come to terms with the fact that life is going on as normal in the US without him. Because his identity is connected to Kristina's and she is back home he searches for something to hold on to but he finds nothing to live for. Mendes, here, shows us the sad and desolate existence of being a soldier. As a director, he doesn't hold back and we see a world of darkness filled with non-stop aggression, casual sex and continuous swearing. This is the reality of war and a life unsaved.

                  Swofford's behaviour escalates into insanity as his jealousy, anger, boredom and longing eat away at him. He spirals from alcohol abuse to continual masturbation to deep depression to terrifying rage.

                  Towards the end of the 175 days these marines are crying out for action. They fire their rifles just for something to do - to make sense and to justify the time they have waited in the desert. But more than that it is to give their lives definition and a reason for existing.

                  What is really disturbing about this film is its lack of hope. All the men are really wired and tense except for the the staff sergeant (Jamie Foxx) who is the only one who seems content with his life. He reads the bible and thanks God for leading him into the corp but I was never really sure whether he believed in God and whether the bible helped him get through the ordeal in the desert. For most of the film we see darkness and how empty life is and I found it quite depressing.

                  This is a suffocating film and it is quite long and does drag on after two thirds of the way. For me the only thing that saves the film is the clever and funny writing. Some of the sequences are unforgettable and quite ridiculous. You immediately know that they must be true accounts of Swofford's real life.

                  Gyllenhaal's acting is star quality and he carries the film with an aggressive but outstanding performance. It's fascinating to see the way he has total disregard for everything and everyone around him and the way he portrays madness is admirable. Jamie Foxx has a small part but is burning with fire and Chris Cooper is also very effective as Lieutenant Kazinski. But the actor who wins all the prizes is Peter Sarsgaard who plays Troy, the friend of Swofford's who is deeply troubled but talks a lot of sense.

                  This is a well crafted film and could become a classic war film in a different way, portraying a new kind of modern soldier and his world. Jarhead is a film that transmits the mood of emptiness and futility. These soldiers may physicaly leave The Gulf War but part of them remains in the desert where they spent 175 days doing nothing.

                  Even though the film is dark it is worth a peek as it is well put together and the acting is excellent. Plus it gives us an insight into the behaviour of soldiers and the mental traumas they go through when they are not fighting but just hanging around. Excellent work from Sam Mendes.

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                    09.11.2008 16:35
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                    Jarhead, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx, is a stunning autobiographical war drama based in the early 90s gulf war.

                    The adverts for this were very misleading, and we thought we were going to pay witness to an action packed black war comedy. This was not the case. The violence/action is minimal and the film is a bleak psychological drama, but nonetheless a brilliant one.
                    Based on Anthony Swofford's biography, Sam Mendes shows us through clever set-pieces and well thought out characters, the futility, boredom and desperation that occurs during long periods of war where nothing happens.

                    Jake portrays Swofford brilliantly, and Jamie Foxx offers slight comic relief sometimes as the patriotic staff sargeant.
                    Although the film is quite slow moving, and not what you'd expect from a conventional war movie/ drama, I recommend it for the great soundtrack, great performances, and the heavy emotional content.

                    Plus, there are some great one liners and hilarious scenes amongst the tension.

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                  • Product Details

                    Based on Anthony Swofford’s 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 it’s not. It’s just the story as it was written, and if you liked the book, you will probably like the movie. If you didn’t, then the movie won’t 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 media’s TV cameras), more training, and constant anticipation of the moment to come when they’ll finally get to kill. When the war does come, it moves too fast for Swofford’s sniper team, and the one chance they get at a kill--to do the one thing they’ve 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 doesn’t entirely work as the film needs something more than a literal translation to bring out its full potential. Mendes’ 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