Year: 2005
Studio: Universal
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Anthony Swofford
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Lucas Black
The anti-war war movie. The point of Swofford's tirade, both the book and the movie it became, is that the US marine corps and the code it lives by might well be redundant in today's battlefield, where generals in faraway bunkers conduct war like a videogame and tough foot soldiers never get near the real action they crave.

Drowning in their own sweaty machismo, Swofford (Gyllenhall) and his combatant teammates have little to do to unleash the energy the marines corps has spent so long pumping them full of, and the results are disastrous for morale as they bake in the Iraqi sun during the first Gulf War and wait.

The crunch comes when Swofford and his partner and friend (Sarsgaard) are sent to snipe a target in an Iraqi township. Relieved at the last second because an air strike has been rustled up instead, they fight with their relieving officer, pleading for the kill so they can say they've done at least something. It's the insanity of the killer instinct writ large.

Amid doubts about his girlfriend's fidelity back home, Swofford goes a kind of insane and is sent back to America without having fired a shot and a very different man for it.

The result is a veteran story with a difference. Usually it's about men shellshocked and haunted by too much blood and senseless death. Before this film, you've never thought about the ones haunted by the ghosts of their own crippled power as soldiers.

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