Reviewed by: Jonathan Wooten
|Featuring:||Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Lucas Black, Chris Cooper|
|Producer:||Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher, Sam Mercer|
|Distributor:||Universal Pictures Distribution|
What is the Christian perspective on war? Answer
Welcome to the suck
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Based on former Marine Anthony Swofford’s best-selling 2003 book about his pre-Desert Storm experiences in Saudi Arabia and about his experiences fighting in Kuwait. “‘Jarhead’ (the self-imposed moniker of the Marines) follows Anthony Swoff, a third-generation enlistee, from a sobering stint in boot camp to active duty, sporting a sniper’s rifle and a hundred-pound ruck on his back through Middle East deserts with no cover from intolerable heat or from Iraqi soldiers, always potentially just over the next horizon. Swoff and his fellow Marines sustain themselves with sardonic humanity and wicked comedy on blazing desert fields in a country they don’t understand against an enemy they can’t see for a cause they don’t fully fathom.”
Wow, this is one bleak movie. Its basic goal is to borrow the themes from the best Vietnam War films (“Apocalypse Now,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Platoon”) and place them in the setting of the 90’s Gulf War. “Jarhead” is peppered with the music, images, and in jokes from these classics (the soldiers are even shown watching them during R&R). As with most cover bands though, it just makes you wish you had gone to see the original instead.
There are no likeable characters or instances of redemption here. We follow a recruit (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his platoon from boot camp to the wars premature end. Our lead starts out as a bright but directionless kid whose family has a history of service (guess which war) and ends up coming home quite damaged. The sad thing is that this is not a totally inaccurate depiction of some soldiers, and the film is in fact based on a Gulf War vet’s book. But “Jarhead” ends up being such a downer because it leads us to believe that the vast majority of those who serve have their spouses cheat on them and inevitably come home a wreck.
There’s not much spiritual content to mention. Jamie Foxx’s drill sergeant character is seen reading the Bible and thanking God for The Corps, but also has a foul mouth like everyone else in the movie. We learn little about Gyllenhaal’s characters religious beliefs other than he wants his dog tags to state “no preference.”
It should be mentioned though that there are a couple of solid performances. Jamie Foxx truly has the chops. He plays an authority figure with an unusual amount of depth. Peter Sarsgaard is also a gem who steals scenes the hard way with quiet restraint. Like Charlie Sheen in “Platoon”, Jake Gyllenhaal is a serviceable narrator (though he obviously never got the memo stating that men shouldn’t cry in films unless they are a really good actor).
Though set in the early 90’s the filmmakers try subtly to put it in the context of the current Gulf War. They want to point out that we are still in Iraq and the reasons mostly involve oil. This is definitely a worthwhile subject to debate but the film’s position isn’t particularly fresh. “Jarhead” makes no points that haven’t already been made or are worth paying ten bucks for.
Possible Objectionable Content: Almost constant profanity and sexual dialogue, nudity and raw sex scenes, for a war movie, the violence is not that graphic, but this is still an R-rated film to the max.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
I am not defending “Jarhead” here, it stands for what it is without my help. …I watched this film with a friend of mine who was in fact a Marine who just returned from Iraq last month. His only comment after the film was, “Wow, that really sums up about everything I saw over there…” I would say that most people would be somewhat shocked by this movie, but anyone with a brain can look at the other movies Sam Mendes has directed (“American Beauty”, “Road to Perdition”) and realize exactly what viewpoint he will probably take here. The language is rough, it’s how Marines (not to mention people who aren’t Christians) talk. There is not really any physical violence, just some remains of air strikes. The sexuality is also there, but none of it is intended to be erotic in the slightest. It just contributes to the darkness of the movie…
Very Offensive / 5
—Tom, age 21
Don’t go see this movie if you don’t want to be offended. Don’t go see this movie if you don’t want to watch 2 hours of immorality that ultimately seems to have no point. If you did and don’t like it, be thankful that you only had to endure 2 hours of it and not 4 years. Let me ask you, brothers and sisters in Christ, do you honestly believe that you might not find out something disturbing about yourself if you signed up to be a jarhead? Semper Fi
Extremely Offensive / 3½
—Ed, age 29
NEGATIVE1. Sergeant York
Extremely Offensive / 1½
—John Kehrli, age 31
Comments from young people