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"Jarhead" (the self-imposed moniker of the Marines) follows Swoff, a third-generation enlistee, from a sobering stint in boot camp to active duty, sporting a sniper's rifle and a hundred-pound rucksack on his back through Middle East deserts with no cover from intolerable heat or from Iraqi soldiers, always potentially just over the next horizon. Swoff and his fellow Marines sustain themselves with sardonic humanity and wicked comedy on blazing desert fields in a country they don't understand against an enemy they can't see for a cause they don't fully fathom.

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The film's strong suit is vagueness, presenting combat as a semi-surreal state of ignorant expectation and dislocated experience: these warriors loll in the desert awaiting action or trying to make sense of its consequences."
‑ Ben Walters, Time Out
"This is a very strong film with really good performances."
‑ Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper
"Slick military faux-criticism"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"As a depressive riff on Generation X's first war...it's exceptionally well-crafted."
‑ Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic.com
"A series of disjointed, shocking, and often unintentionally-humorous vignettes designed to celebrate boy-boy camaraderie while fomenting anti-Arab sentiments in the name of God, mom, and Apple Pie."
‑ Kam Williams, Upstage Magazine
"Jarhead is utterly predictable (boys endure tough training; boys encounter another culture and are baffled), studded with first-rate performances."
‑ Ken Tucker, New York Magazine/Vulture
"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 though which other young men can be observed."
‑ Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
"For some it's an anti-war message, for others it's just a non-biased portrait of a man who never went to war despite being in the military during war time."
‑ Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
"What little statement the film makes revolves around the absurdity of these men, trained to shoot with ultimate precision, and never given the chance to fire off a round."
‑ Joe Lozito, Big Picture Big Sound
"The first 20 minutes of have masterpiece written all over them, unfortunately, that fire peters out quite constantly until the film comes to a near flat lining ending."
‑ Ross Anthony, Hollywood Report Card
"Screenwriter William Broyles, Jr., a former Vietnam pilot and Newsweek editor, connects reasonably well with the material, but American Beauty director Sam Mendes has a tendency to smooth out the rough edges, and the film goes flat as month-old soda."
‑ Scott Tobias, AV Club
"Director Sam Mendes' third screen outing pretty well nails Swofford's tone, which was mordant without being disrespectful, and, in fact, is begrudgingly reverent of the Corps."
‑ Mike Clark, USA Today
"Sporadically entertaining, and ultimately pointless -- although that seems to be its agenda right from the start."
‑ Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons
"As time passes, waiting for orders becomes like waiting for Godot, an absurdist tragicomedy of frustration, madness and masculinity gone awry."
‑ Anton Bitel, Eye for Film
"As usual, when the US makes war against the rest of the world, it's the artist who steps up to the plate to expose the lies and senseless tragedy, not the faint of heart or soul politicians and media."
‑ Prairie Miller, WBAI Web Radio
More reviews for Jarhead on Rotten Tomatoes

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