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Jarhead (R)

Release Date: November 4th, 2005 by Universal Pictures.
The Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, Jacob Vargas, Skyler Stone, Wade Williams, Katherine Randolph.
Directed by Sam Mendes.

BASIC PREMISE: Anthony Swofford (Gyllenhaal) joins the Marines during the 2nd Gulf War.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Jarhead is much more than just a war film. It begins with Antony’s basic training and standard drills where he’s derided just like in other war movies like Full Metal Jacket . However, the real war takes place inside the marines’ heads as they are faced with the cruelties of war and face their animal instincts during the harrowing missions. Surprisingly, each marine, such as Troy (Sarsgaard) has his own unique, distinguishable personality and, most importantly, there are references do their life back at home. Anthony left his girlfriend (Randolph) back at home, but he soon realizes that she moved onto somebody else when she mails back a gift that he sent her. There’s even a Wall of Shame with photos of other cheating girlfriends and wives. In one comical scene, a marine receives a tape of Deer Hunter and, while everyone gathers to watch it, instead there’s visual evidence of his wife cheating on him with her neighbor. O of the most powerful and frightening scenes is when Anthony turns against his fellow marine in a burst of rage. This scene alone summarizes Jake Gyllenhaal’s amazing ability to express a full range of emotions as he gradually breaks down and cries. Jamie Foxx also gives a very strong performance as Anthony’s very strict sergeant who loves to give order to his marines. The few action scenes are very well-shot and, surprisingly, there’s very little blood and guts compared to Saving Private Ryan. The spectacularly stylish cinematography never ceases to entertain your eyes while the hip, well-chosen soundtrack pleases your ears. Jarhead’s most remarkable achievement is that, from beginning to end, you truly care about Anthony and what happens to him whether or not you’ve been in the Marines before.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: During his brief stay in the Marines, Anthony learns a lot of lessons about life, such as how to control his anger and deal with rejection. Overall, this film makes a statement about how pointless war can seem, especially for those who fight in it without knowing the real reason why they’re out there in the first place. By the end of the film, it’s inevitable to apply this statement to the soldiers fighting overseas today.



THE BOTTOM LINE: Powerful, thoroughly entertaining, smart, and very timely. RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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