Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sam Mendes|
|Produced by||Douglas Wick
|Screenplay by||William Broyles, Jr.|
by Anthony Swofford
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Editing by||Walter Murch|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||123 minutes|
Jarhead is a 2005 biographical drama war film based on U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford's 2003 memoir of the same name, directed by Sam Mendes, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Swofford with Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, and Chris Cooper. The title comes from the slang term used to refer to U.S. Marines (sometimes by Marines themselves).
In 1989, Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) is being trained in a U.S. Marine Corps boot camp by the choleric, hard-boiled Drill Instructor Fitch (Scott MacDonald). After finishing boot camp, "Swoff" is dispatched to Camp Pendleton.
Swoff then explains how he tried to fit into civilian life. He thought about going to college but ended up taking a detour. Shared highlights of his pre-military existence include 'studying' (having sexual intercourse) with his girlfriend who later ends up cheating on him.
Swofford finds his training at Camp Pendleton tough as he struggles through making friends and living day to day. He then writes "fuck it" on a light billboard with large letters before the movie cuts to him sitting on the toilet (the "head"). In the head trying to be "sick" (by drinking a whole bottle of liquid laxative), he is slipped food under the door before being approached by Staff Sergeant Sykes (Jamie Foxx), a Marine "lifer" who invites Swofford to his Scout Sniper course.
After arduous training sessions that claim the life of one candidate, Swofford is one of the 8 remaining candidates from the original 60 and is selected to be trained as a sniper. He is paired with his roommate Troy (Peter Sarsgaard) who becomes Swofford's spotter. During all of this Swoff is put through his paces and learns a variety of sniper techniques. Although he first regards it as a joke, he starts to enjoy the idea of getting to kill someone. Kuwait is eventually invaded by Iraq and Swofford's unit is dispatched to the Persian Gulf as a part of Operation Desert Shield. Although the Marines are very eager to see combat action, they are forced to hydrate, wait, patrol the nearby area, amuse themselves and otherwise adapt to the hot, arid, barren environment. During the waiting period the "wall of shame" is shown and as Swoff is looking at it a fellow Marine (Fowler) teases Swoff that it's only a matter of time before Swoff's girlfriend shows up there. This wears on Swoff's mind relentlessly throughout his deployment.
During an impromptu Christmas party instigated by Swofford, who has obtained unauthorized alcohol, Fergus (Brian Geraghty), a member of Swofford's unit, accidentally sets fire to a tent and a crate of flares. Swofford gets the blame because he was supposed to be on watch but had Fergus sit in for him. As a consequence, Swofford is demoted from Lance Corporal (E-3) to Private (E-1) and is forced to undertake the decidedly undesirable task of burning latrine effluvium with diesel fuel. The punishments, the heat and the boredom, combined with suspicions of his girlfriend's infidelity and feelings of isolation, temporarily drive Swofford to the point of mental breakdown. In an unbelievably tension-filled scene, he threatens and nearly shoots fellow Marine Fergus then turns the weapon on himself and orders the traumatized Fergus to shoot him. When Fergus refuses Swofford leaves the tent.
After a six-month wait in the desert, Operation Desert Storm, the coalition force's ground campaign, begins. The Marines are dispatched to the Saudi-Kuwaiti border. Briefly before the action begins, Swofford learns from Sykes that Troy concealed his criminal record when enlisting and will be discharged after the end of hostilities. Troy begins to keep distant from his fellow Marines. Knowing that Troy will never be allowed to re-enlist, the Marines attack him with a red-hot USMC branding iron, marking him as one of their own. Following an accidental air attack from friendly forces, the Marines advance through the desert, facing no enemies on the ground. The troops march through the Highway of Death, strewn with the burnt vehicles and charred bodies of retreating Iraqi soldiers, the aftermath of a U.S. bombing campaign. Later, the Marines suddenly catch sight of distant burning oil wells, ignited only moments before by the retreating Iraqis, and they attempt to dig sleeping holes as a rain of crude oil falls from the sky. Before they can finish, Sykes orders the squad to move upwind from the oily precipitation.
Swofford and Troy are finally given a combat mission. Their orders are to kill at least one of two high-ranking officers in Saddam's Republican Guard, holed up at a nearby airfield. At the last split second before Swofford takes the shot, a high-ranking officer interrupts them to call in an air strike. Swofford and Troy vehemently protest, but they are overruled and later look on in disappointment as the planes destroy the Iraqi airfield.
On returning home the troops parade through the towns in a jovial celebration of victory. Swofford returns home to his family and girlfriend but discovers her with a new boyfriend. Fowler is seen to be with a prostitute in a bar, Kruger (Lucas Black) in a corporate boardroom, Escobar (Laz Alonso) as a supermarket employee, Cortez (Jacob Vargas) as a father of three, and Sykes continuing his service as a First Sergeant in Operation Iraqi Freedom. An unspecified amount of time later Swofford learns of Troy's death (the cause of which is never specified) during a surprise visit from Fergus. He attends the funeral, reunites with some of his old friends and afterwards reminisces about the effects of the war.
- Jake Gyllenhaal as LCpl/PFC Anthony Swofford aka Swoff. Swoff is from Sacramento, California.
- Peter Sarsgaard as Cpl Alan Troy. Troy is Swoff's friend and spotter. Troy is from Greenville, Michigan.
- Jamie Foxx as SSgt Sykes. Sykes is a Marine lifer. He is Swoff and Troy's training SNCO during Scout Sniper training at Camp Pendleton.
- Lucas Black as LCpl Chris Kruger. Kruger is the dissenter of the group. He is from Baytown, Texas.
- Evan Jones as PFC Dave Fowler. Fowler is from Framingham, Massachusetts.
- Brian Geraghty as PFC Fergus O'Donnell. Fergus is from Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.
- Laz Alonso as LCpl Ramon Escobar. Escobar is from Miami, Florida.
- Jacob Vargas as LCpl Juan Cortez. Cortez is from Delano, California.
- Chris Cooper as LtCol Kazinski. Kazinski is the battalion commander.
- John Krasinski as Cpl Harrigan.
- Dennis Haysbert as Major Lincoln, the battalion executive officer.
- Iván Fenyő as Pinko, a marine and Hungarian immigrant.
- Scott MacDonald as D.I. Fitch
- James Morrison as Old Mr. Swofford
- Brian Mahoney as Priest (Uncredited)
Critical response 
The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics, registering a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the movie three-and-a-half out of four stars, crediting it for its unique portrayal of Gulf War Marines who battled boredom and a sense of isolation rather than enemy combatants. Entertainment Weekly magazine gave the film a "B+" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote:
Jarhead isn't overtly political, yet by evoking the almost surreal futility of men whose lust for victory through action is dashed, at every turn, by the tactics, terrain, and morality of the war they're in, it sets up a powerfully resonant echo of the one we're in today."
In his review for the Washington Post, Stephen Hunter praised Jake Gyllenhaal's performance: "What's so good about the movie is Gyllenhaal's refusal to show off; he doesn't seem jealous of the camera's attention when it goes to others and is content, for long stretches, to serve simply as a prism through which other young men can be observed". Sight and Sound magazine's Leslie Felperin wrote, "If nothing else, Jarhead provides some kind of reportage of a war whose consequences we haven't yet begun to understand, a war now elbowed into history by its still-raging sequel". USA Today gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "What we're left with is solid if not exceptional, though it's good to see Mendes expanding as a filmmaker". Time magazine's Richard Schickel wrote, "But the best war movies—and this one, despite its being overlong and repetitive, is among them—hold that men fight (or in this case, are ready to fight) not for causes, but to survive and to help their comrades do the same".
However, in his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott felt that the film was "full of intensity with almost no real visceral impact", and called it "a minor movie about a minor war, and a film that feels, at the moment, remarkably irrelevant". Kenneth Turan in his review for the Los Angeles Times wrote:
Its polished surfaces and professional style can't compete with the gritty reality conveyed by documentaries like Gunner Palace and Occupation: Dreamland — or, for that matter, by the surreal black comedy of David O. Russell's Three Kings — that show in no uncertain terms what it's like to be a soldier in Iraq".
In his review for the Village Voice, J. Hoberman wrote, "A master of the monotone, Mendes prompts his performers to hit a note and sustain it. Although Jarhead is more visually accomplished and less empty than American Beauty or Road to Perdition, it still feels oppressively hermetic".
Nathaniel Fick, another author who is a Marine, gave the film a mixed review (and panned the book on which it is based) in Slate. He wrote, "Jarhead also presents wild scenes that probably could happen in combat units, but strips them of the context that might explain how they're more than sheer lunacy". James Meek, who reported from the battlefields of Iraq, reviewed the film in the pages of The Guardian. He wrote, "The key to a film about war is how it ends, and if the young man at the film's centre is lifted out of the battlefield uninjured and sane, if his family and home life before and after aren't prominent in the picture, the movie is diminished as a film which says something about war and becomes a simpler story of growing up, of jeopardy overcome".
It has been suggested that parts of the Jarhead plot were taken from Joel Turnipseed's 2002 Gulf War memoir, Baghdad Express, without the author's consent. Jarhead screenwriter William Broyles Jr. has claimed that many similarities arise from the retelling of common Marine experiences.
- San Diego Film Critics Society Special Award for Body of Work (Jake Gyllenhaal) (Also for Brokeback Mountain and Proof)
- Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design Award for Contemporary Feature Film (Dennis Gassner, Stefan Dechant, Christina Wilson, Marco Niro, A. Todd Holland, Christopher Tandon)
- Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Jamie Foxx)
- Satellite Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Jake Gyllenhaal)
- Satellite Award for Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role, Drama (Peter Sarsgaard)
- Satellite Award for Outstanding Film Editing (Walter Murch)
- Satellite Award for Outstanding Screenplay, Adapted (William Broyles Jr.)
- Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture (Pablo Helman, Jeanie King, Grady Cofer, Brett Northcutt)
- Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor (Peter Sarsgaard)
Home media 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2011)|
Released on March 7, 2006, the film is available as a single disc standard version (in both fullscreen and widescreen) and a 2-disc Collector's Edition. Some DVDs came with a pair of dog tags that say "Jarhead" on one side and on the other side, "Welcome to the suck".
The single disc standard version has been included with a protective silver casing, engraved on the front is the shape of a dog tag with the word "Jarhead" written on it.
Jarhead was also one of the final films to be released on VHS.
- "Jarhead (2005)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2011-06-21.
- "Jarhead". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
- Ebert, Roger (2005-11-04). "Jarhead :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Gleiberman, Owen (2005-11-02). "'Jarhead' Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Hunter, Stephen (2005-11-04). "'Jarhead': A Platoon Full of Sand And Grit". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Felperin, Leslie (January 2006). "The Longest Days". Sight and Sound. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Clark, Mike (2005-11-04). "A few good men give 'Jarhead' a solid feel". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Schickel, Richard (2005-11-02). "In the Eye of Desert Storm". Time. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Scott, A.O. (2005-11-04). "Soldiers in the Desert, Antsy and Apolitical". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Turan, Kenneth (2005-11-04). "'Jarhead'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-05-29.[dead link]
- Hoberman, J (2005-10-25). "Weathering the Storm". Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Fick, Nathaniel (2005-11-09). "How Accurate Is Jarhead?". Slate. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
- Meek, James (2005-12-16). "Visions of hell". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Carr, David (2005-11-09). "'Jarhead': Whose Stories Are They?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Jarhead (film)|
- Official website
- Jarhead at the Internet Movie Database
- Jarhead at AllRovi
- Jarhead at Rotten Tomatoes