Jarhead (2005)




Director:  Sam Mendes

Starring:   Jake Gyllenhaal (Anthony Swofford), Jamie Foxx (Staff Sgt. Sykes), Peter Sarsgaard (Troy), Brianne Davis (Kristina)

US marines in the Gulf War



Good movie.  But don't look for a lot of action.  After all, the Gulf War was a very short and relatively easy war. 

When I was in army basic training, jump school and advanced individual training, the one thing I was most impressed by was the sheer boredom of the army way of life.  It is always a constant, never-ending stream of hurry-up and wait and wait and wait and wait.  My biggest morale problem was surviving boredom.  I was at least lucky to be trained in sociology, so I got some entertainment from watching the antics of the guys.  For instance, the guys spend a lot of time teasing each other and thinking up cleaver quips to aid in this endeavor. 

This movie catches that hurry up and wait atmosphere very well.  And it has to be harder for Marines than the army.  There are a lot of laid-back guys in the Army (you have to be laid-back in a wait-wait atmosphere in order to survive mentally).  But the Marines are supposed to be more gung-ho.  The exaggerated low down on the Marines is that they are hired killers chomping at the bit for action.  And this Marine character is on display in the movie. Indeed, the waiting and lack of real action (where the Marines could exhaust some of their adrenalin) starts to wear on their mental preparedness as several of the Marines show real signs of mental breakdown. 

Oh, the the portrayal of life in the burning oil fields is wonderful.  What a disgusting place that was for men and a poor horse.  I felt really bad for the poor innocent horse (and the Marines of course).

For an honest portrayal of some of the effects of combat on men, this is a great film.


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

Historical Background:


See Courage Under Fire (1996)



Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)