I am sure you all might be thinking about this idiom taken from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, well this time it’s Sam Mendes’ Jarhead. This is based on the chronicle of U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford’s first hand experience in First Gulf War. If you are expecting another gun blazing war saga then you might fairly be disappointed because this movie is actually a drama rather than a war biopic.
The movie starts with Swofford’s a.k.a Swoff joining the Marine Corps & undergoing the dehumanizing process very similar to what we have seen earlier in movies like Full Metal Jacket but by far less charismatic drill instructor; who can ever forget the legendary Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Kubrick’s masterpiece. After boot camp Swoff is sent to Camp Pendleton where he is drafted to scout sniper course under the command of Staff Sergeant Sykes. Soon after Kuwait’s invasion by Iraq, Swofford’s unit gets dispatched to the Persian Gulf as a part of Operation Desert Shield. Eager to see action which never actually arrives he becomes jaded, frustrated & disillusioned. Eventually after the long stand when Operation Desert Storm begins, his unit never gets the chance to get into real fight. Soon after the end of war Swofford realizes that his entire tenure was actually spent on crossing never ending desert, running into burning oil wells lit by retreating Iraqis & marching through Highway of Death.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Swofford did pretty decent job to bring out the life of a Marine Corpsman yet it would have been better if he had shown some depth to the actual emotional turmoil & frustration Swofford went through during the campaign. Rest of the castings did great to depict the routine of the marines including Jamie Foxx as charming Sergeant Sykes. The overall cinematography made it look more like a concrete documentary rather than a movie.
Jarhead cannot be measured against Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker ; still if you like to experience the First Gulf War from the marines perspective who never got the chance to fight give this a try.