Sam Mendes has become one of my new favorite directors. He really has a knack for imagery and character that tells stories in subtle ways through pictures. Case in point, Jarhead brought back shocking memories of oil being everywhere and that infuriating feeling of the senseless Operation Desert Storm (and Shield). The air is misting with oil in much of this film and that is so amazingly claustrophobic... it almost just gives us a hint of what a nightmare it must have been.
And there are other subtleties about the film that echo what those troops must have felt as they walked around the desert without any real action at all. How their fight was with themselves and with the missions from the air and sea that really defined each move of the chess piece and that showcased how a war could be fought and won through technology and literally left these guys in the dust. With no action, it leaves for great performances like Jamie Foxx's Oscar-winning, ball-bustin' Staff Sargent Sykes and for a number of key interstitial moments that help demonstrate who these men were and how the mind can and will wander when it's left to its own devices.