Jarhead

User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 217 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 30 out of 217

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User Reviews

  1. AndrewK.
    Nov 7, 2005
    5
    Boring. This movie has such a lack of a plot. Its one of those films where they try to pull off showing you just a bunch of stuff that happens, without any clear storyline to carry it along. Obviously, when it comes to real life, we don't have perfect little conclusions to different parts of our lives, but I think that that's a good reason not to turn some true stories into Boring. This movie has such a lack of a plot. Its one of those films where they try to pull off showing you just a bunch of stuff that happens, without any clear storyline to carry it along. Obviously, when it comes to real life, we don't have perfect little conclusions to different parts of our lives, but I think that that's a good reason not to turn some true stories into movies. I don't know about the actual book, because it might have had a much more clear plot. Or not a plot, really, but at least more of a sense of closure. A lot of people on here have been railing at the REAL critics for saying not enough happened during the film, and mistaking this to mean that the critics were expecting it to be an "action" film. Honestly, I don't really care for action films. And if I thought that that was all this movie was going to be, I might not have gone to see it (though I do like war films, as long as they have some kind of meaning; this film had neither action OR meaning). On the bright side, many of the actors did a tremendous job with a less than brilliant script. Its not to say that the movie isn't entertaining at times, but it just leaves you feeling empty at the end, and unsure of what you're supposed to take away from it. Yes, there is the argument that the whole idea is that a lot of these guys didn't actually get to do ANYthing in the Gulf War, but that's no excuse for a lack of a real story. There are a lot of loose threads that could have been made into something more to help better translate the feelings these soldiers felt about not really doing much. Every time an occasion like this comes up, it doesn't lead anywhere. David Denby, of The New Yorker, noted that the characters are mysteries. There is obviously something bothering each of them, but we never get to find out exactly what. The end of the film is extremely anticlimactic. The film didn't have a political statement to make, nor did it need to. When one soldier starts to bring up politics, another chastises him saying, "F*** politics. We're here now." I took this line to be like an aside from the writer, or maybe even Sam Mendes, as if to say, "That's not what this movie is about. This movie is about the soldiers." Except it Expand
  2. RobertN.
    Nov 5, 2005
    4
    Some parts of the movie were funny but mostly, this movie is a waste of time. The script and plot are not very solid the whole way through...the climax is very disappointing especially. This movie never picks up pace at all. This is fundamentally an anti-war movie that just leaves a bad taste in your mouth after seeing it. The trailer did look pretty neat and if you have a stomach for Some parts of the movie were funny but mostly, this movie is a waste of time. The script and plot are not very solid the whole way through...the climax is very disappointing especially. This movie never picks up pace at all. This is fundamentally an anti-war movie that just leaves a bad taste in your mouth after seeing it. The trailer did look pretty neat and if you have a stomach for unnecessary violence and sex from a negative perspective on war, you can go ahead and rent it. Expand
  3. ChrisM.
    Nov 7, 2005
    5
    Has some good lines and a few good scenes...but otherwise a bland, boring, incoherent mess filled with just as bland, boring, and incoherent characters.
  4. CJ
    Feb 26, 2006
    6
    A reasonable film, but by no means anything spectacular. Some unnecessary and unexplained scenes were partly at fault for it being a tad weak, coupled with its huge, long-winded build up, and hugely disappointing anti-climax.
  5. richardg.
    Dec 11, 2005
    4
    READ THE BOOK... It is much better, and the movie doesnt capture everything the book has to offer. The movie is pointless and has no meaning to it. In the book, several things drive the soldier crazy, the letters that were sent to him, the meetings with different people, the bonds that the built were all there. The movie misses several important things. The book goes back and forth before READ THE BOOK... It is much better, and the movie doesnt capture everything the book has to offer. The movie is pointless and has no meaning to it. In the book, several things drive the soldier crazy, the letters that were sent to him, the meetings with different people, the bonds that the built were all there. The movie misses several important things. The book goes back and forth before the war and after the war and during the war, and give your his life. The movie captures the dull side of it and it is a damn shame. Expand
  6. May 29, 2011
    6
    Sam Mendes has made a precious movie about the war in Iraq showing the side that nobody had curiosity to deepen and that had everything be tedious and boring. The film has an absurd psychological strength, makes us think of as human enough to extremes when it comes to war, how the values change significantly and the life that never makes it all erased. Great movie and worth seeing.
  7. Dec 17, 2013
    5
    An interesting premise as this one focuses more on the daily activities of the soldiers than battles. Thus, one would assume that there would be solid character development, yet this movie seems to think giving hometowns and showing where everyone wound up counts as character development. Ultimately, "Jarhead" winds up feeling like Platoon without the intrigue. Without characteristicallyAn interesting premise as this one focuses more on the daily activities of the soldiers than battles. Thus, one would assume that there would be solid character development, yet this movie seems to think giving hometowns and showing where everyone wound up counts as character development. Ultimately, "Jarhead" winds up feeling like Platoon without the intrigue. Without characteristically great performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx, there wouldn't be much reason to tune into this one. Expand
  8. May 25, 2014
    6
    Jarhead is a decent war movie but it tries to force the psychological apsect of soldiers being in war down your throat to a point were the film gets boring. The movie has a likeable cast with Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, Lucas Black, Evan Jones, Chris Cooper all of them did solid performances and if it wasnt for them acting well together this film would be completelyJarhead is a decent war movie but it tries to force the psychological apsect of soldiers being in war down your throat to a point were the film gets boring. The movie has a likeable cast with Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, Lucas Black, Evan Jones, Chris Cooper all of them did solid performances and if it wasnt for them acting well together this film would be completely unwatchable. There is little no action in the film which makes for a boring war movie becuase you need a nice flow of the psychological aspect of war and action to keep the viewer entertained like what "Apocalypse Now" and "Platoon" did. It seems for the most part that Sam Mendes's movies are average besides "American Beauty" at least thats what i think im sure others would disagree. This is not a war film id recommend to people when there are loads of better ones to watch this one is low on the list unless you havnt seen it.

    Overall i give it a 6.0
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  9. Jip
    Jun 22, 2014
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Jarhead feels relatively innovative as it invites us to consider a different and original perspective of war. The story is based on Anthony Swoff's memories of the Gulf war. Swoff is played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who's psychological well-being is challenged by a war which is portrayed as slow, boring and out of reach. This is because Swoff and his unit are mainly not directly involve in the actual combat.

    Unsurprisingly Jarhead is not the ordinary 'fast-paced-action-war-movie' which one might expect. Yet, this is what distinguish Jarhead from the ordinary war movie. However, the story eventually becomes rather slow and the characters aren't developing as well as I thought.
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  10. Apr 9, 2016
    6
    Part absurdist drama, part personal observational commentary and part hormonal explosion, Sam Mendes' third feature has numerous arresting moments but never achieves a confident, consistent or sufficiently audacious tone.

    As a Hollywood take on the United States’ initial offensive against the dictator commonly referred to here as Saddam Insane, “Jarhead” doesn’t come close to the first
    Part absurdist drama, part personal observational commentary and part hormonal explosion, Sam Mendes' third feature has numerous arresting moments but never achieves a confident, consistent or sufficiently audacious tone.

    As a Hollywood take on the United States’ initial offensive against the dictator commonly referred to here as Saddam Insane, “Jarhead” doesn’t come close to the first one, David O. Russell’s “Three Kings.” Nor does it self-importantly try to offer even covert commentary on what’s going on in Iraq today. Rather, Vietnam vet screenwriter William Broyles Jr. has used Anthony Swofford’s bestselling 2003 tome to create a bemused study of what it was like to be a soldier primed for action in a war in which ground troops were rendered almost irrelevant by air power.

    From the outset, Vietnam and movies assert themselves as the primary touchstones for “Jarhead.” You have to look carefully to make sure the opening shot isn’t drawn directly from “Full Metal Jacket,” what with a barracks-full of dogfaces being berated by a vein-busting drill instructor who looks like R. Lee Ermey’s country cousin. But it’s 1989, and the man/boys are being prepped for war on the sizzling sands of the Middle East.

    After 20 minutes of basic training, a beautifully rendered fleet of TWA 747s transports the tale to Saudi Arabia, where the men are exhorted to “kick some Iraqi ass” by a gung-ho officer (Chris Cooper). Throughout, global politics and the motives behind the troop buildup lie far in the background, as the film strives to portray a state of being rather than a reason for action.

    Once the stage shifts to the promised battleground, “Jarhead” becomes a vaguely existential story of being all dressed up with nowhere to go, about men awaiting chemical warfare and an alleged million-man army while playing football in the sand sporting gas masks, surreptitiously pleasuring themselves and giving each other grief about unfaithful girlfriends and wives.

    On a scene-by-scene basis, Mendes and Broyles provide a steady serving of gritty goods, from the lovely monologue by Jamie Foxx, playing a staff sergeant, to haunting shots of the men examining the charred remains of Iraqi soldiers and burning oil wells lighting up the night sky that prompt Swoff to observe that “the Earth is bleeding,” and for some will bring to mind Werner Herzog’s mesmerizing impressionistic docu “Lessons of Darkness.”

    After “American Beauty” and “Road to Perdition,” Mendes looks more than ever a veritable chameleon among directors as he stages the action here — and nonaction — with vigor and smarts. But his very caginess helps prevent the film from busting out — with irreverence, outrageousness, penetrating insight, anything — in a way that would give it a full-fledged personality of its own. It’s almost as if the filmmakers were hiding behind a mask of strongly cultivated intelligence that keeps them from genuinely expressing their emotions and gut instincts.

    Gyllenhaal is alert and physically very present in a good performance that centers the film, and Foxx is strong in his important secondary role. Otherwise, however, thesping is more ordinary than one has come to expect from a Mendes film.

    Ruggedly made pic looks buff and stripped down. Roger Deakins’ lensing is at one with the bleached-out appearance of the sand-colored costumes and settings (pic was shot entirely in North America, in the California and Mexican deserts). Visual effects are seamless, while Thomas Newman’s score is abetted by some musical selections that consciously ape those used in some Vietnam-era dramas.
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Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 40
  2. Negative: 2 out of 40
  1. Jarhead refuses to engage in its own point of view toward events it depicts. So the film feels empty and tentative, uncertain of what if anything these events add up to.
  2. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    60
    Part absurdist drama, part personal observational commentary and part hormonal explosion, all seen through the filter of previous war pics, Sam Mendes' third feature has numerous arresting moments but never achieves a confident, consistent or sufficiently audacious tone.
  3. As a result, Jarhead is utterly predictable (boys endure tough training; boys encounter another culture and are baffled), studded with first-rate performances.