If I’m being honest then going into this movie I expected the worst, not least because the last ‘Jarhead’ (Jarhead 2: Field of Fire) was truly wretched film making, even by the standards of DTV. Actually I watched the first movie recently again and it has not aged well, it’s not a Desert Storm movie but a Desert Shield movie… and it’s a pity that some of the many battles of the Gulf War weren’t used in one of the only major movies about the conflict. Anyway, this is another movie from Universal’s DTV division, which pumps out what could best be described as solidly unremarkable cheap actioners.
The film is set in a fictionalized Arab country and the United States embassy to the country is facing daily protests from disgruntled locals, with more than a few Jihadis among their ranks. A Marine detachment, led by Scott Adkins, provides security detail, with Charlie Weber being the new Marine on site under his command. As the CIA takes a prisoner into the complex, all hell breaks loose as the shit hits the fan as an orchestrated and sustained attack is launched by an ISIS-affiliated group, probably the first time ISIS has been mentioned in a movie, first time I’ve noticed it anyway.
The film of course shares no relation with the first or even second movie, other than the property ‘Jarhead’ being put to use for promotional value. Likely this was some spec script that was simply retuned with the name and perhaps some contemporary buzzwords (Islamic State) with a view to shipping a few ‘trilogy’ box sets. That said, the strongest thing here is the script, insofar as that it’s leagues better than the second movie’s effort. Time is made to calibrate characters in the first act, make you care (kinda) about them and their situation. Then, the movie knows its limitations and lets kinetic action take over.
The big problem with Jarhead 3 is that it looks very cheap, with some suspect acting appearing here and there. I don’t know where this movie was filmed, but the set looks quite distinctly non-Middle Eastern and almost like it might have been used normally for some daily soap opera. There’s also some very poor CGI blood and questionable horizons/green screen landscape. This will be a deal breaker for many, understandable, and in a lot of ways, you’re not getting what you pay for.
It’s a pity though, since the action is fairly coherent, the shaking camera has mellowed from the second movie and at least the director is allowing his audience time, mostly, to see who is shooting at who and so forth. Oh and as usual, Scott Adkins shows up to work, treating the role as if it was one of his bigger jobs although his is a glorified part time role here.
Reasonably good for a DTV, not recommended otherwise.