Critics Consensus

This first person account of the first Gulf War scores with its performances and cinematography but lacks an emotional thrust.



Total Count: 198


Audience Score

User Ratings: 392,705
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Jarhead Photos

Movie Info

"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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Jake Gyllenhaal
as Anthony Swofford
Peter Sarsgaard
as Allen Troy
Lucas Black
as Chris Kruge
Chris Cooper
as Lt. Col. Kazinski
Jamie Foxx
as Staff Sgt. Sykes
Dennis Haysbert
as Maj. Lincoln
Laz Alonso
as Escobar
Evan Jones
as Fowler
Ming Lo
as Bored Gunny
Kevin Foster
as Branded Marine
Scott Macdonald
as D.I. Fitch
James Morrison
as Mr. Swofford
Craig Coyne
as Young Mr. Swofford
Dendrie Taylor
as Mrs. Swofford
Rini Bell
as Swoff's Sister
Brianne Davis
as Kristina
Arman Zajic
as Boy Swoff
Brian Casey
as Paintball Marine
Ernest Ozuna
as Sergeant Major
Jocko Sims
as Julius
Jonathon R. Mize
as STA Graudate
Joel Prato
as STA Graudate
Peter Gail
as Doc John
Donna Kimball
as Reporter
Mark Davis
as Dettman's Neighbor
John Krasinski
as Corporal Harrigan
Mike Akrawi
as Bedouin
Jubin K.
as Bedouin
Hari Bali
as Bedouin
Kurt Larson
as Arguing Corporal
Ammar Daraiesh
as Iraqi Officer
V.J. Foster
as Vietnam Vet
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News & Interviews for Jarhead

Critic Reviews for Jarhead

All Critics (198) | Top Critics (48)

  • It's another fine Gyllenhaal performance, but not really enough, because his suffering doesn't amount to a hill of Kuwaiti sand in the end.

    Feb 10, 2006 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Ben Walters

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Jarhead takes a perverse pleasure in confounding your expectations of what a war movie should be.

    Jan 17, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Paul Arendt

    Top Critic
  • Stunning to look at and to listen to, with elegantly chosen pop songs unspooling on the soundtrack under each fresh new horror.

    Jan 14, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Jarhead is utterly predictable (boys endure tough training; boys encounter another culture and are baffled), studded with first-rate performances.

    Dec 9, 2005
  • 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.

    Dec 6, 2005

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Jarhead

  • Feb 12, 2016
    Reminiscent of Full Metal Jacket to a certain extent, Jarhead gives a different picture of war- the kind that's beyond explosions, ambushes, and chaos.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer
  • Nov 24, 2012
    Not at all what I was expecting, It focuses on the the life of one soldier and his time in Afghanistan, There is no action at all but somehow you get really gripped, It's brilliantly acted, Worth a watch.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Jul 12, 2012
    Upon first viewing, 'Jarhead' is no more than a portrait of the psychological challenges of a boring war. Yet, after the credits role, this film settles into your stomach and mind and doesn't leave. Sam Mendes creates a beautifully terrifying atmosphere with amazing cinematography and a strong cast of actors, with Gyllenhaal, Foxx, and Sarsgaard showing true talent. This film is not a trigger-happy gun show, but instead a poignant portrayal of soldiers battling themselves instead of the enemy. It's refreshing to see a great filmmaker give a unique turn on the modern 'war' genre.
    Kase V Super Reviewer
  • Mar 30, 2012
    Jarhead is a near perfect mix of Full Metal Jacket and The Hurt Locker. Jake Gyllenhaal's completely absorbing performance is a talent that I envy. Jarhead is about the struggle of doing nothing when you're expecting to do something, specifically during the Gulf War. You can tell how damaged these marines are, especially in their emotional outbreaks. Not only is Jake Gyllenhaal's performance amazing, but Peter Sarsgaard and Jamie Foxx's are as well. One thing a lot of people must be complaining about is that there isn't much action: but that's the entire point of this movie. The lack of combat and what it does to you when you're expecting it. Sam Mendes, the director of American Beauty and Road to Perdition is helming and he is amazing, as expected. There was one shot in particular that was incredibly well done: Jake Gyllenhaal stands up and embraces a barrage of explosions and doesn't care that it's happening to him because he's been so affected by everything. The camera focuses in on him and goes into slow motion as a shot of dirt and sand fly into his face. In another scene, Peter Sarsgaard's character flips out because he couldn't kill someone. This just shows you how badly these men want to kill someone, and seeing Sam Mendes unfold their sanity is an intriguing thing to see.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer

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