Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
3.29

Awesome: 16.67%
Worth A Look31.94%
Just Average: 27.08%
Pretty Crappy: 12.5%
Sucks: 11.81%

14 reviews, 60 user ratings


Latest Reviews

Star Wars: Episode VIII : The Last Jedi by Jay Seaver

Darkest Hour by Jay Seaver

Shape of Water, The by Jay Seaver

I, Tonya by Rob Gonsalves

Wonder Wheel by Peter Sobczynski

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Rob Gonsalves

Swindlers, The by Jay Seaver

Oro (Gold) by Jay Seaver

Disaster Artist, The by Peter Sobczynski

Explosion by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed


Jarhead
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by brianorndorf

"Pretty pictures, but who are these people?"
3 stars

Based on the best-selling memoir by Anthony Swofford, “Jarhead” is a film of beautiful sights and sounds, but lousy characterization. Director Sam Mendes doesn’t have much trouble finding attention-grabbing locations for this Gulf War, yet as the film plays out, it comes increasingly clear that he’s unable to overcome the film’s complete lack of plot with lukewarm portraits of wartime losers trapped in situations beyond their understanding.

After running out of life options, Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhall) has just joined the Marines. Under the tutelage of his commanding officers (including a pronounced Jamie Foxx), hazing from his fellow enlistees, and the promise of eventual freedom from the armed forces, Swofford loses himself in the experience of being a soldier. As Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Swofford and his squad are shipped over to the Middle East to await activation. Baffled by his new surroundings and unable to experience the violence of a soldier’s life like he was promised, Swofford wanders though the first Gulf War disillusioned, bored, and angry as he waits for the meaning behind the madness to sink in.

There’s a missing rhythm to Sam Mendes’s “Jarhead” that upsets the flow of the film in numerous ways. Bringing Anthony Swofford’s military memoir to the big screen, “Jarhead” was probably crafted with good intentions, but the final product feels like Mendes shot a script with every 5th page missing.

Mendes’s strength has never been in his screenplays, treading lightly over the words in his films “American Beauty” and “Road to Perdition;” however, Mendes is a primo visual stylist, and “Jarhead” is an absolute buffet of eye candy. Collaborating with cinematographer Roger Deakins, “Jarhead” aspires to send the audience on the road to hell through the experiences of Swofford as he makes his way from boot camp to the thick of Iraq. Mendes alternates between lush, surreal vistas of the arid, forbidding desert to the tight, hot, claustrophobic realm of the Marines, keeping the audience as discombobulated with the landscapes as the characters are. Mendes doesn’t take any shot for granted, and his determination to shoot the hell out of this “Full Metal Jacket Jr.” is commendable. A standout sequence is found in the bleak, poisonous desert soon after Hussein ordered the oil wells set ablaze: as oil falls down on the squad like summer rain, Mendes visually summarizes that all-important moment of insanity that Swofford is trying to convey, where the situations found in the Gulf War were even more bizarre than anything the Marines were prepared for.

If Mendes paid as much attention to his characters as he did to his photography, “Jarhead” would’ve been easily as profound as it aspires to be. The isolation and deliberate distance paid to Swofford and his experience makes sense; here is a kid stuck is a situation he regrets, hoping that the longer he closes his eyes, the quicker he’ll be home again. Mendes grasps that critical maturation in the characters from dumb civilians to demoralized soldiers well, but the movie still plays very sneaky chess with the characters, missing important beats of development and relationships that confuse the story in the long run. With a film that essentially is about the journey of the soldiers, and no plot to speak of, the absent pieces add up quickly. Swofford’s behavior is a main point of contention, as he bounces between madness and complacency with mystifying ease. The fuzzy math also applies to his partnership with sniper colleague Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), with the two either tight friends or bitter enemies, depending on the scene. As “Jarhead” builds to a climax, Mendes’s job is to get the characters and the audience on the same level, so the payoff of Swofford’s life after the war feels real and cuts deep. The feelings never arrive; Mendes fumbles the script and creates even more distance between the soldiers and their mindset.

“Jarhead” is a competent war film, detailing the era when computers and precision wrestled away the fighting from the grunts. Mendes is after the impotency (often literally) of the modern soldier, not the bigger political parallel of war in Iraq (though he does slip into speechifying and underlining here and there).

In book form, Swofford’s pathway was personal and focused. Regardless of how lush and fully realized the imagery is, “Jarhead” as a movie is stuck permanently in basic training.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13464&reviewer=404
originally posted: 11/04/05 00:24:50
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell good acting good production values dull as dishwater 2 stars
6/21/10 Aaron Two of my grandparents and my uncle were mariens, in every way this movie is total garbage 1 stars
12/18/09 Jeff Wilder Good not great. Pacing off. But characters well defined. 4 stars
7/07/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* A straight foward movie about how desert shield/storm really was. I wanted more sniping!!!! 4 stars
8/18/08 Shaun Wallner This ones ok. 3 stars
6/11/08 PAUL SHORTT AS MUCH AS IT SEEKS TO BREAK NEW GROUND, IT FEELS CALCULATED 1 stars
4/25/08 Karrie Millheim I thought it was a good story and the guys are hot 4 stars
4/21/08 mr.mike Did they think being a marine would be a picnic? 3 stars
8/06/07 Hello Stranger takes another view on war. and it works. a bit tedious though 4 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Good picture of the horrors of war, but it was supposed to be a movie. 3 stars
12/13/06 Phil M. Aficionado Really compelling as a "slice of life as war" portrayal; excellent production values, too 4 stars
11/04/06 A Concerned Citizen It's the one war film that describes the war in it's entirety, similar to Full Metal Jacket 5 stars
11/01/06 Patsyc Not as good as I thought it would be. It was interesting to see the life of a marine there 3 stars
10/24/06 Drew G Great movie, not sure what type of people the haters are... 5 stars
10/12/06 TJ Absolutely sucked. I saw it last night for the first time. A total waste.Don't bother! 1 stars
9/21/06 Chris Hately Great film. Oh, and Bill Hicks is the best comedian of our times. 4 stars
9/13/06 Mara Frost Good movie, Jake Gyllenhaal gives the best performance of his career 4 stars
9/12/06 matt pretty funny, good visuals 4 stars
5/28/06 daveyt story about tedium and pointlessness, told likewise. Jake was good though 3 stars
4/27/06 jana newton I loved this movie 5 stars
4/26/06 Indrid Cold I guess the Gulf War was boring and pointless, but so is the movie about it. 3 stars
4/24/06 Ken Muir Too much needless profanity. Vacuous content. 1 stars
4/23/06 Ry no story.... 2 stars
4/17/06 Jung Texican Decent documentary maybe, instead a film made hollow by its empty story 2 stars
3/23/06 mike waste of time, movie about garbage and marines being gay! not cool at all 1 stars
3/09/06 Wiseman Watch Saving Private ryan instead, I really regret I bought this movie. 1 stars
3/07/06 Katie Interesting look at the life of soldiers. 3 stars
2/05/06 gladys it was a waste of time..boring!! 1 stars
1/12/06 cooler mendes was always overrated and this proves it 1 stars
1/07/06 Bob Great performances, some fantastic imagery and a nice new take on war. 5 stars
12/10/05 J.K. Claire The best movie ever about war and mind. 5 stars
12/07/05 Sharon This movie was degrading to the military. My husband is a veteran and was appalled. 1 stars
12/04/05 B. McDaniel This film sucked - Don't bother 2 stars
11/29/05 M. Ritter, Marine Wife Marines sacrifice so much for us, what a slap in the face to Marines and their wives! 1 stars
11/28/05 Phlyer2 Discredits Brave Martines-Shameful! 1 stars
11/27/05 Elizabeth S Absolutely riveting, and Saarsgard should get a supporting nom. 5 stars
11/24/05 baseball-nut Not a bad movie....I'd suggest you wait and rent it at Blockbuster! 3 stars
11/23/05 Dustin Geist It was good half way through but after about half way the interesting just dropped. 1 stars
11/22/05 Jessica Holland I absolutely loved this movie, i think it is great for people to see!!!! 5 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Cooper and Foxx are fantastic. Sarsgaard great as usual. Screenplay blows. 4 stars
11/20/05 Brianna Schroeter I came out wondering what it was I missed. I'm not sure if I did. It's just too easy. 3 stars
11/17/05 Judy it's really good, just not for those people that only go to watch people get blown up. 4 stars
11/17/05 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Slow and Bloody Boring 1 stars
11/13/05 Lanie Richardson it was different, but definitely worth a trip to the theater. 4 stars
11/12/05 Todd a very different kind of war movie, but well worth a look. 5 stars
11/11/05 "K" More Anti-American BS from the director of the highly anti-American "American Beauty" 1 stars
11/10/05 wes excellent view of what marine life is actually like... a little exaggerated at times 5 stars
11/09/05 Sean COMPLETE PILE OF CRAP 1 stars
11/09/05 Linden Groves not for friends of W 4 stars
11/07/05 Jeff Hella fucking good 5 stars
11/07/05 jcjs so so; ain't no DeerHunter, Apacolypse, Platoon, Born on 4th.pretty tame barely 'WorthALook 4 stars
11/07/05 bentable zzzzzzzzzzzzzz 2 stars
11/07/05 KingNeutron Disturbing and thought-provoking. 4 stars
11/06/05 Eric Weisman,M.D. I'm surprised this one played in our local theater, I loved it. 5 stars
11/06/05 Zigga This movie was tight man! don't watch it if your ONLY expecting a Blackhawk down paprt 2 5 stars
11/06/05 Naka Nope. 2 stars
11/06/05 othree Prob a good book someone made 2 movie, funny, kinda late gettin ready 4 war their never in 4 stars
11/05/05 Marine Family This movie was awful! It portrayed Marines as idiots who had no purpose nor conviction. 1 stars
11/05/05 jeff no plot, good acting, dont really c the point of this movie!! i recommend it 4 stars
11/04/05 John Gordon What a let down, clearly written by someone who hated the Marines, Great for anit war movem 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  04-Nov-2005 (R)
  DVD: 07-Mar-2006

UK
  13-Jan-2006 (15)

Australia
  09-Feb-2006




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast