Sam Mendes’ directorial career got off to a phenomenal start after American Beauty raked in $356 million at the box office and won five Academy Awards from eight nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. He followed it up with the acclaimed crime thriller Road to Perdition, but third time did not mark the charm for the filmmaker.
Jarhead was a blackly comic military drama based on the memoir of the same name by Anthony Swofford, who was played in the movie by Jake Gyllenhaal. A middling critical response and underwhelming commercial performance marked the first setback Mendes had faced, but he’s since rebounded and then some.
However, did you know Jarhead went on to inspire an entire VOD action franchise with absolutely no connections whatsoever to either Mendes’ work or the book it was adapted from? Because it did, for reasons that have never really been explained or even made remotely clear.
Jarhead 2: Field of Fire, Jarhead 3: The Siege and Jarhead: Law of Return were released between 2014 and 2019, with the third installment having crept onto the Netflix most-watched list, as per FlixPatrol. Genre veterans Scott Adkins and Dennis Haysbert appear among the ensemble, which isn’t quite a recommendation, but it does make it clear how far the unexpected franchise veered from the first film.