HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Jarhead 2: Field of Fire
HTS Overall Score:69
This reminds me in a way of my reaction when I first heard that “300” was getting a sequel. My first and primary reaction was “do we really NEED a sequel to Jarhead?”. With “300” I was very pleasantly surprised with the sequel, here, not so much. “Jarhead” was a nice little Marine drama that was released back in 2005, and while it’s not the quintessential war movie, is a nice little drama with a few fire fight scenes. Back then Jaimie Foxx was just starting to be taken seriously and Jake Gyllenhaal was just on his way up to the Hollywood elite. Now we have a nine year gap and then a sequel. In all reality though, “Jarhead 2: Field of Fire” is not a real sequel, as its only relation to the original film is that there are marines involved and is probably best thought of as its own individual movie. Even with that in mind it’s basic DTV material and really just as palatable as your standard DTV action movie.
Corporal Merrimette (Josh Kelly) has just been made squad captain of his unit after his previous commander is killed in action during a supply run. Now he’s in charge of guarding the convoys that go to and from camp Leatherneck in the Afghani desert. Major Gavins (Stephen Lang) gives Merrimette and his crew of marines a routine mission, go and guard a supply convoy on its way to resupply another squad of marines out in the fringe areas around them. Things go as planned until the marines run into a pair of Navy Seals out an Afghani woman out in the wastelands. From there things go south as the convoy is hit and only 5 marines and a lone seal make it out alive along with the Afghani woman. This Navy Seal, Fox by name (Cole Hauser) takes control of the 5 marines and attempts to pull them out of harm’s way.
This might have gone easier if the marines in question were seasoned front line units, but these marines have never done anything but guard convoy’s their entire tour and have little experience in hand to hand combat with guerrilla fighters. Fox now has to bring out the inner soldier in the crew and get his ward out of the way. As with anything in war, nothing ever goes to plan and the marines run into one obstacle after another, eventually leaving Merrimette in charge of them once more. Now Merrimette has to balance leadership, combat skills and his better judgment in order to get this lone Afghani woman back to marine headquarters and learn just what fighting for a symbol is worth to him.
Whoowheee, I’m not where to start on this one. The first “Jarhead” film was a nice character driven drama, but with the sequel it seems that have forgone character driven moments with clichés, marine jargon and tons of action. In all honestly it TRIES to be a drama at times, but ends up squandering that in favor of watching things blow up. To be fair, the action scenes are the best part of the whole movie and gives you a few moments of respite from the poor writing and bad acting. There’s a bit of quick cut editing during the action sequences, but it isn’t too distracting and the battle in the Afghani village near the very end is actually a rather well done sequence.
The writing is really where this thing went south in hurry. We are subject to writers who felt that filling the entire film with marine “jargon” and slang would make it more authentic. I can’t count how many times I heard catchphrases like “semper-fi”, “jarhead”, “devil dogs”, “muji”, “hoo-ra” and weapon slang being repeated ad nauseam. We get it, marines use those terms, but having most of my family IN the marines I can tell you it’s not used like they’re filming a promotional video for the marine corp. The only people who really stood out for having decent (and I stress only DECENT) acting were Cole Hauser and Stephen Lang. Lang hams it up as the overly gruff military commander as we’ve seen him play in “Avatar”, just without blue thundercats and instead he’s in charge of getting the marines out, all the while eating up every bit of scenery that he can possibly find. Cole Hauser is fairly limited, but he does a palatable job at playing a U.S. Navy Seal, tough, confident and cool to the end. The rest of the cast is a bunch of young pretty boys and girls, who mainly are there to fill in every cliché you can think of. The lone girl in the squad, the racist who can’t stand having a native soldier in their ranks only to find a mutual respect for each other later on, the coward who freezes under fire, the token Asian, it’s all out of the standard action movie playbook. A playbook that is worn and tattered from heavy use. I can’t say the movie is awful, for I’ve seen much worst in the DTV arena, but this is not top tier, or even mid tier action movie material.
Rated R for war violence and language including sexual references
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=24857[/img]While “Jarhead 2: Field of Fire” may not be a compelling drama, or a balls to the walls action flick, it certainly comes with a pretty picture. Shot digitally, it renders a clean and clear image that is devoid of any major artifacts, overuse of grain due to cheap film stock and stays away from dim light shooting to avoid the pitfalls that darkness gives to some digital cameras. Depth and clarity are very pleasing and lean towards the excellent more times than not, with only a few scenes that lack some of the crispness that we look for in a stellar Blu-ray release. Colors tend to be a bit drab, with very earthy tones as the main color replication along the spectrum due to the desert environment. Contrast levels and skin tones are very nice and natural, with just a bit of desaturation in the contrast from time to time, usually in bright daylight scenes. Artifacting and compression issues are a no show, as the disc is given a very healthy bitrate due to lack of extras. It’s a very impressive transfer that easily stands as the highlight of the package.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=24865[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a rather impressive track that vibrates with power and ferocity during the copious battle scenes. The LFE channel is used to give a very heavy bottom end to the gun fire and the explosions that litter the desert surroundings and the surrounds are used quite extensively. The track gives a very encompassing feel as I quickly noticed the sound effects dancing across all 5 channels with great directionality. Bullets whistle from all directions, plinking to the front, the rear and the sides as you feel the full weight of the battle. Even the ambient noises such as footsteps in the sand sound accurate show pin perfect directionality. My only real complaint had to do with the dialogue, as it felt a bit muffled and muted at times. Most of the duration we have great dialogue, crisp and clean, but I believe lack of adequate mic’s in position dampened the dialogue when the person would turn to the side or what not, as you could heard the sound shift with them and get muffled in the process. A good track, but the dialogue issues pull it down from a 4.5/5.
• Deleted Scenes
I’m not going to say that “Jarhead 2: Field of Fire” is a good movie, or even a decent one, but it serves its purpose as DTV fluff. Now that doesn’t mean it’s something I’d ever recommend, I’m just saying it’s actually better than a lot of other DTV action flicks out there, however it’s still a walking, talking cliché and is a sequel to “Jarhead” in name only. I’d have to say that the video and the audio are the only thing to recommend in the release, as extras are pretty much about as absent as good writing and acting is in the movie. Solid Pass.
Starring: Stephen Lang, Cole Hauser, Jason Wong
Directed by: Don Michael Paul
Written by: Berkeley Anderson, Ellis Black
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 2.0 Spanish DTS 5.1
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 19th 2014
Buy Jarhead 2: Field of Fire Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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