An anti-hero is a hero of our times.
Rambo is something of the past that only reminds us how silly it once had been to praise a one-dimensional look of a hero, or basically, anyone who kills their enemies while wearing uniform showing off their macho quality.
Moving forward to the end of 20th century, we get to see Three Kings which shamelessly exploits the capitalist minds of George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube in seizing every single opportunities to make them rich after the war ends.
In an almost similar note, the guys in Jarhead as led by the buffed-out Jake Gyllenhall and Peter Sarsgaard combine both films’ premises, in a more heart-wrenching way.
These Marine guys were still at the peak of their self-discoveries stage of their adulthoood when they were launched to the battle in Iraq during the Gulf War. Thus, it is highly acceptable to see the once-innocent American guys can get changes of characters during their entire service time as they have to face the harshness of the military life.
Taking from this point, it is what makes the film compelling to watch. The war turns out the be a mere backdrop of the film’s plot which is more suitable to be seen as a passage of adulthood. Think of Stand By Me or The Lost Boys in desert, and we may feel empathy towards every single marine guys in their battle to become a hero on their own terms. Some may succeed, some may not, and some choose to surrender to the desert which gave them nothing but a warm reception when they come home.
Thus, as Gyllenhaal’s Swoff character says, “Every war is the same”, the statement could not be more attuned in defining the characters of each and every marine guy upon completing their time in a war, that they become an anti-hero on their own lives.