Solid adaptation of Anthony Swofford's memoir is not so much an anti-war film as an absence-of-war film. Gyllenhaal is excellent as "Swoff," a Marine recruit trained as a sniper and sent to fight in the first Gulf War. Only when he gets there, there's no fighting, just waiting and preparing. Mendes's deft touch is put to good use in showing the frustration and boredom of the Marines, using other war movies as touchstones and keeping politics in the background while focusing on the characters. The drawback of this approach is that the audience becomes just as frustrated as the soldiers with all the inaction.