Monday, May 28, 2007

Jarhead...simply put

Jarhead - Sam Mendes - 2005 - 8/10


Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) becomes the third Swofford to enlist in the Marines and the movie follows him from boot camp to war. Try to think of the training scenes in "Full Metal Jacket" and follow that up with the serious scenes of "Three Kings" and you might have a rough idea of what to expect. You would still be wrong. The movie is a gritty portrayal of the Marines, from their training as STA Snipers by Staff Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Foxx) to their deployment in the Gulf War. The Marines are trained to face the elements, to not be afraid of live fire (something one Marine learns the hard way), how to shoot and adjust for wind, how to take a shot without hesitation, how to wage war...The Marines are not just trained automons though. This movie gives them a realistic portrait - vulgar yet scared - swearing, watching porn, hazing, drinking, smoking, doing everything they should be doing. Swofford worries that his girlfriend back home won't actually wait for him, and sees how the Corps can ruin the relationships of other Marines. After an intense training sequence that would make "Full Metal Jacket" proud, the troop is deployed to the Gulf War where they see no action and have trouble dealing with the dangers of war and the feelings of inadequacy and helplessness of staying in camp, their jobs done by fighter pilots.


All the references to solid movies above should be evidence enough that I think this movie is really good. The characters, espeically Peter Sarsgaard as Troy, are really good. Sam Mendes really shows his ability to make different pictures, as this movie is drastically different than "American Beauty" and "Road to Perdition." At the same time, the strong themes of lust in Beauty and family in Peridition are continued in Jarhead with comraderie and self purpose. The only thing the movie can't quite finish on is the ending. Nothing near as strong as the two Mendes movies I just mentioned. Instead you have the high of the movie capped by an anti-climatic and confusing finish that doesnt really "get it done" and hammer Mendes' message home.


Definitely actively try to see it.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Full Metal Jacket
...Three Kings
...Road to Perdition

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