Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 30, 2016)
Back in 2005, Jarhead provided an off-kilter, quirky look at the military and warfare. However, 2014’s Jarhead 2: Fields of Fire apparently ignored that tone completely. A “sequel” in name only, that film seems to have delivered a conventional war movie.
2016’s Jarhead 3: The Siege follows the same path as its immediate predecessor, so don’t expect the semi-subversive approach from the first film. Marine Corporal Evan Albright (Charlie Weber) gets assigned to the US Embassy in Unnamed Middle Eastern Country, where some anti-US unrest foments.
Though Albright’s new colleagues assure him that he’ll encounter nothing but peace, the opposite soon becomes true. In an attempt to silence an informant, extremists launch an assault on the embassy, and Albright finds himself at the heart of the battle.
Boy, that scenario sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Any resemblance between the events in Siege and the September 2012 assault on the US embassy in Benghazi must be a coincidence, I’m sure.
And by “coincidence”, I mean it’s patently obvious Siege offers a fictionalized version of the Benghazi incident. Of course, stories of this sort predate 2012, but I still see the similarities as too close for coincidence. Siege clearly wants to give us a twist on the real-life events – and its characters even allude to that 2012 attack.
Michael Bay’s version of Benghazi didn’t work well, largely because it gave us such a superficial, glossy view. Siege seems no grittier or more realistic – indeed, it indulges even more clichés than Bay’s flick – but I find these choices less problematic here, mainly because of the fictional nature of the story.
As much as it’s obvious Siege borrows from Benghazi, it doesn’t actually attempt to tell that specific story, so I expect less “reality” from it. I have totally different standards when I view films that purport to depict real events versus that simply use facts as loose inspiration, so I won’t fault the cliché nature of Siege in the same way I will 13 Hours.
None of this makes Siege a good film, though, and the flick indeed suffers from its less than creative nature. Admittedly, the original Jarhead wore its influences on its sleeve, as we could see its roots in predecessors such as Full Metal Jacket and M*A*S*H.
Nonetheless, Jarhead still offered an unusual take on the war genre; while indebted to those earlier movies, it made its own way. On the other hand, Siege feels interchangeable with any number of genre efforts.
And I don’t just mean the military genre, as Siege feels like plenty of other action flicks as well. It takes its cues from a variety of efforts, and these influences mean it never does much to create its own identity.
Still, as direct-to-video sequels go, Siege does okay for itself. While it seems lacking in creativity or originality, it offers better than average production values for a low-budget affair. Siege falls a little short of the look/feel of something that’d get a theatrical release, but it still comes across as professional.
Siege also manages reasonable war-based action as well. Again, you’ll not find anything that doesn’t resemble plenty of other flicks you’ve already seen, but the movie still delivers a moderate sense of excitement and drama as it explores its well-trodden plot.
Does all of this exist as faint praise? Sure, but faint praise is better than none. Jarhead 3 never turns into anything memorable, but it offers competent popcorn action.