Monday, April 18, 2011
Jarhead, directed by Sam Mendes, follows Swoff (Jake Gyllenhaal), a third-generation enlistee, from a boot camp to active duty, who carries a sniper rifle and a hundred-pound rucksack on his back through Middle East deserts with no cover from intolerable heat or from Iraqi soldiers, always potentially just over the next horizon. This film, I would say, is just a good movie. It is uncanny in it’s effect and lacks many key things. It contains no heroism, little action, and no easy laughs. It is about men who are exhausted, bored, lonely, trained to the point of obsession and given no opportunity to use their training. The most dramatic scene in the movie comes when Swofford has an enemy officer in the crosshairs of his gunsight and is forbidden to fire because his shot may give advance warning of an air strike. In the second act, the marines move to Saudi-Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield; the plot grinds to a complete halt. The soldiers hydrate, masturbate, play football wearing gas masks, and hydrate some more. By showing deadening, continual boredom on screen, Mendes nearly bores his audience to death. Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, and Peter Sarsgaard are acting their hearts out, but Jarhead has no momentum. Overall, I found this film to have some of the best actors and performances, but a disappointing plot and storyline to say the least.