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Jarhead [Blu-ray][Region Free]
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Directed by Sam Mendes. Starring Peter Sarsgaard, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jacob Vargas.
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The acting is fantastic throughout, with standout performances from Jake Gyllenhaal as Swofford, Peter Sarsgaard as Troy and Jamie Foxx as Staff Sgt Sykes. The film focuses on the relationships between the squad mates and the monotomy and boredom of sitting around waiting for something to happen, followed by the bloodlust and excitement when a mission is finally assigned. The cinematography is spot on and there are some iconic Gulf War scenes, including a march down the Highway of Death and the burning of the oil wells.
A must-watch film for fans of the genre and for those looking for a war drama that is slightly different to the norm.
Jake Gyllenhaal is terrifically convincing as the naïve young `average young man' who joins up instead of going to college. His journey is the lynchpin of the movie, and he makes it work. He starts off in the usual drill sergeant shouting at recruits type scenes, and finally gets to the Gulf. There, the movie is about the waiting. The boredom and frustration of being built up to act, and then sit on their heels unable to act.. Problem is, in convincingly conveying the boredom and frustration of the men, the viewer is equally bored and frustrated. The war starts, and yet the frustration is never truly released for the group of marines, and in the final scenes the end is somewhat bleak to say the least. The cream of the most macho soldiers are made to look impotent.
This is a timely look at what some of the pressures must have been like - there are probably also parallels to be made with today's conflict, even though the situation is quite different. As the lead says towards the end - Every war is different - and every war is the same.
So is this enough to spend your two hours on the couch..? The answer is probably only just - there was more that could have been made of these memoirs. But accepting its flaws, its probably still interesting enough to get through - just not if you are an action junkie!
If you want to avoid upsetting all you preconceptions and oversimplificatiopns then do not buy either the movie or the book.
It's a movie full of humour, tragedy and great pictorial expanses. It borrows a bit from previous war movies dealing with Viernam in its characterisation, but still manages to set itself apart through its situations.
A movie which will set you thinking and definitely there for future reference.
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