Jarhead 2: Field of Fire is a strange movie. It isn’t good. It’s not terrible, either. But there’s no good reason to call it Jarhead 2.
Sam Mendes—known for American Beauty and the recent James Bond films—directed the original Jarhead back in 2005. Jarhead is about U.S. Marines fighting boredom and their own personal demons during the 1991 Gulf War.
It’s an intelligent, introspective film.
Don Michael Paul directed this year’s Jarhead 2. The direct-to-DVD sequel has nothing to do with the original film except that it also has Marines in it—plus both movies feature philosophical voice-overs.
Paul’s previous work includes DVD sequels to Lake Placid and Taken. In fact, Jarhead 2 feels more like Lake Placid—yes, the giant alligator movie—than it does Jarhead.
The movie follows the recently promoted Corporal Merrimette and his group of Marines as they escort a supply convoy through Afghanistan. After an ambush, the unit loses their supplies but gain a mysterious Navy SEAL.
Jarhead is an adaptation of Anthony Swofford’s best-selling 2003 memoir. There’s very little actual combat in the movie—the Americans fight at a distance and from the air, frustrating the bored and bloodthirsty Marines of Swofford’s unit.
Jarhead 2: Field of Fire, on the other hand, is a by-the-numbers action movie. Americans battle bad guys, bullets punch through bodies, limbs explode. But it’s entertaining even if it is utter schlock. This low-budget flick is far better than, say, Expendables 3.
But in calling their movie Jarhead 2, the filmmakers invite comparison to Jarhead. And that makes Jarhead 2 look pretty silly.
It’s as if the filmmakers made a passable action movie and then decided to tack on some voice overs and call it a sequel. Remove the unnecessary exposition and change the title to simply Field of Fire and you’ve got a pretty decent flick.
Which is odd. The United States is still in Afghanistan … and has been for 13 years. Has it been so long that Hollywood thinks viewers are ready for action movies set in Afghanistan?
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