Urban Cinefile
"All the characters I've played over the years are different characters but they're also me."  -- Bryan Brown
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



The true story of Marine Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) who enlists in the Marines - like his father did before him - and goes through the toughening up process of boot camp before being sent to the Gulf as part of over half a million soldiers in the Desert Shield campaign to beat back the Iraqi army which has invaded Kuwait. He encounters fellow Marines, or Jarheads, who are as perplexed, afraid and conflicted as he is. He comes under the command of Sergeant Sykes (Jamie Foxx) and forms a bond with his mentor, Troy (Peter Sarsgaard); but the experience is never close to what he expected, in any way whatsoever.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
All the absurdities of the human condition are compressed into experiences of war, or at least that's the impression we get through Jarhead, Sam Mendes' fascinating film based on a real memoir by a Jarhead. Here is the microcosm of man's basest and loftiest urges brought into the light of day, thanks to the threat of death and much worse beforehand.

The film blasts its way through the physical experiences with a powerful depiction of the psychological ones - and these are the ones that linger on. Jake Gyllenhaal is wonderfully evocative as Swofford, completely capturing the various aspects of a young man thrown from the comfort of America's suburbs to the Middle East's hellhole.

Foxx and Sarsgaard are equally satisfying in what are confronting, challenging roles. To Sam Mendes' credit, these characters are never stuffed into pre-designed containers. It's not a war film we've seen before.

The film's most potent effect is its ability to make Swofford's experience not only real in a 'war is hell' sort of way, but to shed light on human nature and how we behave in extreme circumstances. Not always well. This insight, achieved through a myriad small details, genuine humour that springs from character and circumstance and careful writing, is the film's special gift to audiences.

Special features on the DVD include features, interviews, deleted scenes plus a commentary with director Sam Mendes and screenwriter and author William Broyles Jr and Anthony Swofford.

Published June 8, 2006

Email this article

(US, 2005)

CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Scott MacDonald, Lo Ming, Kevin Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Damion Poitier, Riad Galayini, Craig Coyne, Katherine Randolph, Rini Bell, Dendrie Taylor, James Morrison, Arman Zajic, Brianne Davis, Jamie Foxx

PRODUCER: Lucy Fisher, Sam Mendes, Douglas Wick

DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes

SCRIPT: William Broyles Jr. (novel by Anthony Swofford)


EDITOR: Walter Murch

MUSIC: Thomas Newman


RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 9, 2006

PRESENTATION: widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Swoff's Fantasies with Commentary by Director Sam Mendes and Editor Walter Murch; News Interviews in Full with Commentary by Director Sam Mendes and Editor Walter Murch; Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Director Sam Mendes and Editor Walter Murch; Feature Commentary with Director Sam Mendes; Feature Commentary with Screenwriter William Broyles, Jr. & Author Anthony[BREAK]Swofford

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

DVD RELEASE: June 7, 2006

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020