As in his previous features, American Beauty and Road to Perdition, director Sam Mendes knows how to create a lively and eclectic stylistic surface. But there’s so little focus in this adaptation (by William Broyles Jr.) of Anthony Swofford’s best-selling memoir about his experiences as a marine in the first gulf war that the movie keeps breaking up into set pieces, most of them structured like music videos. Bits of the book’s intelligence periodically crop up, but its skeptical view of the war and the military is muddied. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, and Skyler Stone. R, 115 min. (JR)

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