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A movie directed by Sam Mendes

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Jarhead - Hoorah

  • Nov 4, 2005
Pros: Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard

Cons: ....

The Bottom Line: "Welcome to the jungle
It gets worse here everyday
Ya learn ta live like an animal
In the jungle where we play

God, in His infinite wisdom, had the forethought to let my brother join the Marines when we were between wars. He got out of the Marines just a few months before the casualty known as Vietnam started, at least for the US. I am sure my brother would not like my outlook on God’s wisdom to keep him safe from harm, but I know that, given the chance, Marty would have been just as hellbent for leather as Anthony Swofford was to go off and defend his country.

I am sure that if he knew I felt this way, I wouldn’t be his favorite sister. But, hey, I’m his only sister, so his choices are few. While I am collecting unpopularity votes, I might as well say I don’t believe that women belong on the fighting front either. With that said, let’s go to Saudi Arabia to a little place known as Kuwait.

If you go into this movie thinking you are revisiting Black Hawk Down or We Were Soldiers, then you better save your pennies. Comments I heard from people exiting the theater were basically “Well that was a waste of money”. Jarhead isn’t about bombs going off or guns blowing people away, it is about the people that are behind the guns and bombs. Simple as that.

The movie is based on a novel by Anthony Swofford of his experiences serving in Kuwait as a sniper. Swofford, played by Jake Gyllenhaal in a remarkable performance, both loved and hated the war and his part in it. The entire movie is merely an extended boot camp performance but not without triumph or tragedy.

Swofford’s troop went into the operation as guards for the oil fields in Kuwait. They weren’t expected to see the front line, in fact had no idea where the front line was. But each and every one longed for and yearned for the opportunity to do what they were trained to do - kill the enemy - hoorah!

With this story we go inside the players, the soldiers, and learn about their stupid ideals and their dreams. We watch them laugh over a new baby, cry over a lost love. We watch them form a bond that neither time nor freedom would dissolve.

Overall my impression is that these men were brainwashed. Call it what you want, but to me if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it probably is a duck. From the minute they signed on the dotted line and entered the service until the day they left the Corps, it was pushed into them, drilled into them, and it seeped into them. How they reacted and accepted it made them the men they would become after leaving the service.

Although there are many characters in the movie, the three main ones are Staff Sgt Sykes, played by Jamie Foxx, Anthony Swofford played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard as Troy. As I mentioned, Gyllenhaal is outstanding in the film. At times he literally explodes off the screen. At times he is a bit insane. I can’t imagine another actor playing this part. His witty and often dry voice over during the movie made you both like him and hate him at the same time. And frankly, he didn’t care how you felt.

Jamie Foxx was decidedly good as the Staff Sgt. You watched him push, push, push his men with only one goal - have them return home walking and free. There were several times in the movie when Foxx gave an in depth performance, actually taking you inside his mind for a while.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Peter Sarsgaard. While he appears during most of the movie as the even keel, mild mannered and soft spoken, when he finally lets go everyone takes a step back. I really enjoyed his performance.

Filmed primarily in the desert of California, this was not a pretty movie. Bleak, dry and barren. That is exactly what they were trying to convey. It worked.

The film was directed by Sam Mendes with screenwriting credit to William Broyles. It carries an R rating, mainly for language although there are a few scenes of sexual nature, naked shower scenes, and some pretty nasty images in the desert. Run time is 123 minutes.

I must admit I was mildly surprised to see that several audience members had decided to bring young [under 10 ] children to this show. Frankly I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

So, if you are interested in a bang, bang, shoot-em-up, then don’t bother. Overall it is an entertaining movie.



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June 06, 2011
Though im sure you are right about your brothers opinion, just as im sure you and my mother could share your opinions about women in the military i speak for myself and your brother to when i say we are marines, its what we do OOOORAH! I thought this movie hit the boot camp experiance right on the head, and brainwashed dosent even begin to cover it...ill share with you what my 1st DI told me "you signed up, you are now my property to do with as i see fit, before you leave this camp you will be broken, you will question everything you ever knew, and you will be reassembled as the perfect machine, more commonly known as a marine." Even though we hold conflicting opinons i still loved your review....Semper Fi
June 11, 2011
I don't have problems with women in the military, just on the fighting front. Hell we all know women are much stronger than men but there are just so many evil things they do today to captured soldiers. The end result is devastating to men, I can't imagine what it does emotionally and physically to women. Thanks for your comment
June 12, 2011
The Marines, like the other military branches, dont allow women to be a part of the "grunts" or front line solders. But i saw enough stuff in Iraq to make me change my views on life, not that if left me scarred, but i certainly was a differant person when i left than when i arrived.
June 13, 2011
well I wasn't aware of that. sorry about what you had to endure, and still are, but I thank you for making my life my secure. Everyone in the military deserves much more than they get
June 13, 2011
Im not sorry at all the only thing i ever wanted 2do was to be a marine, i am literally living my dream, not many americans can say that these days
More Jarhead (2005 movie) reviews
review by . May 11, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Good soporific      Cons: It is too dull to have any real cons      The Bottom Line: Who knew that war could be more dull than an English drawing room?      Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie''s plot.      Looking through the very helpful reviews of Jarhead, I noticed that even the reviewers who didn’t particularly like the film still rated it fairly high. I’m not …
review by . June 01, 2006
This film had received bad reviews from a political standpoint. I read a couple before I saw this film. They mostly didn't like it because.......what they say again............ O yeah,because it had no message or stance. To that I say good. It was refreshing to see a movie as a movie. I was glad that it was just a story, and there wasn't any motivation underneath it. That's not to say that the movie is one dimensional. There are many undertones, just none of which are attempting to reassert or defame …
review by . May 27, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
"Jarhead" is a marine expression that describes a recruit as an open vessel waiting to be filled by the commanders that be and by the haircut that makes the marine look like one. The movie is a recollection of the first Persian Gulf War, told from the point of view of Private Anthony Swofford (who wrote the book, but is played by Jake Gyllenhall) and his trek from marine recruit until the end of Operation Desert Storm. The war only lasted six weeks, and his contributions only four days, but the …
review by . March 08, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Were intentions graded instead of product, then JARHEAD would be given 4 stars rather than 3, merely because it is one of the few films (so far) that shows the particular idiosyncrasies of that first Bush war, the DESERT SHIELD transforming into DESERT STORM. We have many films that document the mindset of the soldiers from the Civil War through the two World Wars, to Korean War to Vietnam War and each is different. JARHEAD is as much about the changes that have occurred in the American military …
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For his third feature film, British director Sam Mendes (AMERICAN BEAUTY) turns to the pages of Anthony Swofford's 2003 book on his experiences in the first Gulf War, and enlists William Broyles Jr.--a former Lieutenant who fought in Vietnam--to convert it into a screenplay. Mendes's film strays into FULL METAL JACKET territory as it opens, with young recruit Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) undertaking some rigorous basic training under the steely, watchful eye of Staff Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Foxx). Impressed, Sykes invites Swofford to join his team, and partners him with Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), ultimately taking them to Saudi Arabia to fight in the first Gulf War. But once they arrive in the punishing heat of the desert, the long wait for battle sends many of the Marines dangerously close to the brink of insanity. <br> <br> Drawing on the experience of acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) to help viewers get a close-up taste of the Marines' punishing life in the desert, Mendes's fil...

Based on Anthony Swofford’s excellentmemoirabout his experiences as a Marine Sniper in Gulf War I,Jarheadis 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 ...
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