We gave it a B-
Jarhead, Sam Mendes’ adaptation of Anthony Swofford’s Gulf War memoir, retains all of the book’s visceral detail — burning oil fields have never looked so arresting — but little of the absurdist, war-as-tedium behavior that Swofford so expertly observed through his gas mask. Stripping away the underbelly of dark comedy means Jarhead must survive on narrative alone, and unfortunately, the story wears thin after the first hour as the film declines into combat-flick predictability. (This despite Mendes’ visual acumen and Jake Gyllenhaal’s gutsy turn as the cynical Marine.) The EXTRAS include interviews with actual Marines and a first-class collection of deleted scenes, like Sam Rockwell dispensing soldierly wisdom as Swofford’s gung ho uncle. Mini-docs cover the actors’ on-set rifts and boot-camp training. The highlight: Jamie Foxx riffing on what Ray Charles’ military training might have sounded like.