by Ian Harding

“This is my rifle.
There are many like it, but this one is MINE.
My rifle is my best friend. It is my life.
I must master it as I must master my life.
My rifle without me is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.”

Ah yes, the creed of the United States Marines. If you ever watched the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film titled Full Metal Jacket, then you know all too well how the Americans like to rant to the world how tough they are. Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Jarhead is based on the memoirs of Gulf War sniper veteran Anthony Swofford. It tells the tale of the time he spent training, even more time he spent waiting, and time spent looking into the scorched eyes of downed Iraqi civilians. The movie focuses on what happens to skilled men who are trained for war, yet see no action.

Welcome To The Suck.

Most people would first make the assumption that a movie about war is going to be bloody, violent, scary, and very action packed. Movies such as Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, Hamburger Hill, Pearl Harbor, the list goes on… they all strive to make the viewer actually feel that they are in the scenes, laying next to another soldier, heading face on against the enemy. They all have a select group of soldiers that you follow along with, not knowing who will live or who will die.

Jarhead, however, is slightly different. Staring Jake Gyllenhaal as Swoff and Jamie Foxx as staff Sgt. Sykes, this film takes you into the desert camp where marines spend hundreds of days passing the time waiting for their chance to get involved. They train, they hydrate, they tell stories, and they masturbate to the thought of loved ones back home. They do whatever they can to keep their minds in order. Unfortunately for some, time is against them. Known to them as the “Wall of Shame”, this wall is home to photos of girlfriends, wives, and fiancés, all of who have grown tired of waiting for their man to return home. Everyone hopes that they will never have a photo to add, but as time passes and eagerness grows, so do the number of photos on the wall.

“If ill: go to sick bay
If wounded: call corpsman
If dead: report to graves registration
If losing his mind: no… standard… solution… exists.”

I had mixed feelings about the intro to this film. “What is going to make this one so different?” I asked myself. In a way it didn’t matter. Films about war always seem to catch my attention. And I have a feeling it is for one simple reason. One reason that people like myself may spend their entire lives wondering or thinking about. “What is war like? What is war REALLY like?” The other question is, do we REALLY want to know. Another topic for a later date…

Anyway, the main reason why I liked this film was its realism. A lot of movies have very unrealistic scenes. Jarhead is 100% real. No one man tries to be the hero and as Operation Desert Shield turns into Desert Storm, the film does a good job of portraying the events that took place in the sand-ridden planes of heat and sweat. As a matter of fact, the film takes place in the oil fields of Kuwait, so seeing the desert landscape and burning oil fields was remarkable. That is part of why I liked this movie. It gave me a chance to see a distant land without actually going there.

With plenty of humor and for those over 18, more nudity than I have seen in a public theatre in a long time. Don’t get me wrong though people. There aren’t many women that play a key role in this flick, so beware. It’s also not always about the bombs exploding, the guns firing and tanks rolling over the walls. Individuals like silverback are one the many that are currently experiencing it first hand. “Most Iraqis want to move forward. Some obviously don’t. At the same time the US has brought the fight to Iraq and it has drawn all the crazies from all over the area, Syria has a high percentage of people involved in the insurgency. Its a chance to take a shot at the states. So they are doing it. At the expense of Iraq.”

“I love… this… job. I thank God for every day that he gives me in the core. Hoo-rah…”

In the end, the thought this film turned out pretty good. Not too many action scenes but still enough going on to keep you watching. If you’re looking for an action-packed, shoot-em up kinda movie, stay away from Jarhead. Otherwise, consider checking this one out. 8.5/10

  • Jarhead
  • by Ian Harding
  • Published on December 1st, 2005
Sam Mendes
Jake Gyllenhall, Scott MacDonald, Lo Ming, Kevin Foster, Jamie Foxx..

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