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Jarhead This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Based on the autobiographical novel Jarhead by Anthony Swofford, this 2005 war drama was directed by Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes. Following Swofford's (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) deployment during the Gulf War, this movie is laced with dark humor and is, overall, fairly odd for a war film. Boasting a powerful cast, it captures military life perfectly, following Swofford from boot camp to deployment.

What I found odd was that there is no action; throughout the film, Swofford and his fellow Marines are moved around the desert, expecting a battle that never comes. Instead they are ordered to “hurry up and wait.” In my opinion this is a gigantic risk for a war film. Surprisingly, the film kept me interested during the entire 123 minute running time without the violence that we expect in a war film.

“Jarhead” shows the Marine life of boredom, feelings of isolation and helplessness, as well as thoughts of wives' and girlfriends' infidelity. In addition to this rarely seen side of military life, another aspect that kept me interested was the dehumanization shown during Swofford's training.

Another strength of this film is the powerful cast. Working alongside Gyllenhaal is Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Cooper, and Jamie Foxx, among others. Foxx, as Swofford's superior, Staff Sgt. Sykes, is an interesting character. He's a hilariously profane man with the task of training and deploying these men as scout snipers, and he remains with Swofford throughout their service. This cast works well together and creates very real and believable characters.

“Jarhead” is quite touching. Depicting a rarely seen side of military life with a powerful cast, this movie is very well made. Don't let the lack of battle scenes deter you – this movie will impress, almost guaranteed.

This movie is rated R.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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