The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality for millions of moviegoers. It represents the percentage of professional critic reviews that are positive for a given film or television show.
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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.
Percentage of users who rate a movie or TV show positively.
Gyllenhaal can, in fact, act, so the blame must fall elsewhere for his dim performance, all topless tears and soulful voiceovers. The same goes for Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Cooper and Jamie Foxx, three good actors forced into contortions of theatrics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The people you feel most badly for in Jarhead are not the men played by these talented actors, but the marketing department at Universal Pictures, saddled with the impossible task of selling a war movie that doesn't contain any actual war in it.
The filmmakers clearly wanted to avoid the politics surrounding the first Gulf War even as they pay tribute to the Marines, the jarheads, who went to Saudi Arabia to fight. But the result is a movie rife with ambivalence.