Saturday, November 05, 2005

Movie Review: Jarhead

Last night we went to see Jarhead with some peoples Tom knows from school. I'm usually not one for war movies, but this one looked like it would be pretty good. And I wasn't disappointed. It was, to borrow Tom's adjective, very affecting.

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.
All in all, a good movie. Extremely well acted, equally moving and disturbing, not a blood-and-guts war movie so much as a story about a guy trying to survive in an awful situation without losing his mind. It was based on a book of the same name, written by the real Anthony Swofford, which I'd now really like to read.


Tom said...

Sameer and Matt aren't in my group ;)

Amy said...

We went to Saw II last night...the first one was better, in my opinion. Still, a nice (yet almost predictable) twist at the end, and a glorious set up for a third movie...I hate when they make it so obvious that there could be another film.

susan said...

I haven't seen either Saw. Don't really have any desire to. ;)

Momentary Academic said...

Thanks for reviewing this. I kind of want to see it, but I was worried that it would be too much for me. Good review!

susan said...

MA - It's definitely disturbing, but not in a really graphically bloody sense. So if you don't mind anguish and emotional turmoil, I'd say go give it a watch.

mysterygirl! said...

Interesting-- there haven't really been any movies that have caught my eye recently, so I'm glad to read about this one.

Tom said...

Well, I'd say that the movie was pretty decent. There were several references to movies like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, The Deer Hunter, etc. Clearly there were similar themes to be exploredm as well.

However, the central character in this movie was very easy to identify with; an ordinary kid, not an idealized one.

I'm not saying it is mind-blowingly fantastic, but I found it to be easy to imagine myself in his place, wondering if it would be all too easy to slip in the ways he slipped.