Once upon a time there was a movie about a sniper in Operation Desert Storm. It was based on a best seller memoir entitled “Jarhead”. The book and movie were noteworthy for depicting the boredom of modern warfare. Anthony Swofford did not fire a single shot in the war. Although totally realistic, the sequels have taken care of that deficiency. No one wants to see a straight to DVD sniper movie with little sniping. The two sequels don’t save ammunition. “Jarhead 3: The Siege” keeps the Jarhead name, but that is it. It was directed by William Kaufman with a nod towards Hitchcock. In that they are both directors.
Corporal Albright (Charlie Weber) arrives at the U.S. embassy in “the Kingdom”. It’s a quiet zone, but don’t turn off the movie yet. Albright is introduced to his new mates and the sexy digital security director Olivia (Sasha Jackson). He also meets the peacemonger Ambassador Cahill (Stephen Hogan). Albright does not make a good impression when he goes cowboy on a training mission. He gets a moderate ass-chewing and then a harsher one when he goes over his gunny’s head about a suspected terrorist. No one believes him until the embassy comes under extreme attack. The terrorists are led by a Bin Laden type named Khaled. He is the leader apparently because while every one of his men is easy to kill, he is very difficult to kill. He is a mastermind which is proven by the ease with which his men get into the embassy. Cahill takes refuge in a safe room, but Cahill and the others go out to rip asses. And there is plenty of ass-ripping. First there is the initial assault, then local government forces arrive as cannon fodder, then a technical arrives with more jihadis because the movie is running out of bad guys to kill. (The director probably sent a truck to the market place to hire more extras midway through the filming.) When the movie gets tired of the last stand, it morphs into a chase film, returns to a last stand, and concludes with the arrival of the cavalry. Now that I think about it, this movie is a lot like a Western.
If you have a craving for dead hajjis, this is the movie for you. Once the assault commences, there are only a few expository breath-catchers. Otherwise it is nonstop mayhem. The violence is generic. The good guys never miss and the ratio of dead to wounded is typical of combat porn. At least, some of the deaths are unpredictable. There is not enough reloading, but there is some. The acting is fine, even though Weber is wooden. His rogue cowboy grows into leadership in the crucible of combat. Yawn. The other characters are a mix of stereotypes and relatively originals. Cahill is not the usual sniffling bureaucrat. Olivia turns out to be a warrior. If she had been wearing a bikini during the chase scene, the movie probably would not have gone straight to DVD. While Khaled is a stock character, he does get to present his side of the argument. He is shut up by the end of the movie, however.
“Jarhead 3” is not a cult classic. It is a competent actioner and better than could be expected. It is not in a league with the similarly plotted “13 Hours”, but if you have seen that movie and want more ass-kicking and a happier ending, see this one too.
GRADE = C+