Jarhead: Why it’s the Most Underrated War Film Ever Made

Jarhead (2005), directed by Sam Mendes, is a twenty-first-century war film that despite mediocre critical and commercial success, still holds a decent bit of name value with regard to the general audience. In this article, we explore why it is the most underrated war film ever made.

The Ingredients of a Hit

With Jake Gyllenhaal front and center next to Jamie Foxx and Roger Deakins behind the camera, all that was needed was a willing and able director to tell them what to do. Sam Mendes delivered a film of the highest quality, with solid scripts and poignant performances from the cast.

Critical Response and Commercial Performance

Despite receiving decent praise for the project at hand, Jarhead only holds a meager 60% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and made only $97 million on a $72 million budget. Many critics did have positive things to say regarding its themes of loneliness and ennui that arose from the fact that few marines in the Gulf War saw any legitimate action or combat.

Comparing to Critically Acclaimed War Films

While some famous war films like The Great Escape, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Saving Private Ryan are critically acclaimed and popular, there have been dozens of overlooked war films that fall into three tiers: underrated from a critical standpoint, a commercial perspective, and from a contemporary point of view.


Jarhead is an underrated war film, and there are many reasons why it deserves more recognition than it currently receives. Despite its low critical and commercial success, the film’s themes of loneliness and ennui make it stand out in the war genre. In contrast to more popular war films, Jarhead’s high-quality cast and crew make it a unique addition to the genre.

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