Jake Gyllenhaal did a darn good job as Tony "Swoff" Swofford, the reluctant Marine; he wanted to go to college, but his dad was in the Corps and expected Swoff to follow in his footsteps. Early on in the film, Swoff is being berated by his drill sergeant at boot camp. Seargent Whatever says, "What does this recruit think he's doing here?" Swoff's reply amused me: "Sir, the recruit got lost on his way to college, sir!" While at boot camp, though, Swoff is recruited to be a Scout Sniper, and it turns out he's really good at the sniping. Not only that, he loves it. Still doesn't much care for the Corps, but he does love being a sniper.
Anyway, without going into a lot of detail, the film is set right before the first Iraq war (not the current one, which is what I'd gathered from the trailer). Swoff and his company get deployed, and you can guess the rest. A few highlights (or lowlights):
- There is a scorpion battle, which I guess is something soldiers do for fun in the desert. I had to peek through my fingers at the six-foot-long scorpions on screen. It was hideous. (Oh yeah, and the theater was packed, so we were in the very front row.)
- The kid from Sling Blade, who also played Stevie in The X-Files Movie, was one of the guys in Swoff's company. I spent a good twenty minutes wracking my brain trying to figure out where I recognized him from before I figured it out. He's a lot taller than he used to be. (Duh.)
- The wives and girlfriends of military peoples are apparently some seriously bad ho-bags. There were some pretty upsetting moments wherein this fact was illustrated.