Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hurt Locker is a Blast Without the Spark

Some of the scenes are so disconnected with reality to be almost parody.

A lot of the war veteran criticism for the movie, The Hurt Locker, centered on the main character, who is a loose cannon; and the autonomous 3 man team, who drive alone all over Baghdad and its periphery in a single Humvee with no escorts, convoy or communications gear.

Liberals have judged the actions of the US army in the Middle East harshly and sometimes one wonders whether they believe in the fantasy created by the media.

Review by Christian Lowe, Defense Tech.

It has been lauded by the New York Times as the best action movie of the summer. The New Yorker calls it quite a feat. A classic that will be studied 20 years from now. And Time gushes that its a near perfect movie.

Makes me wonder if any of those reviewers even know what EOD stands for.

The latest film from the director best known for the surfing bank heist flick Point Break, Hurt Locker is a duly admirable first attempt at an Iraq war action movie. Director Kathryn Bigelows skill at delivering action, explosions and digital mayhem come through, but the film will strike most military viewers as a bit tone deaf.

But thats Hollywood, right?

Sure there are bomb suits, PackBots, plenty of red, green and black trigger wire, enough C4 to bring down the Green Zone and scores of tweaked out Joes waiting for the bomb squad to see whats under that block of Styrofoam on the side of the MSR.

And itd be fine if it all stopped there.

The movie centers on the quietly intense and a bit loose-cannon-esque Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) who steps in to replace an EOD detachment sergeant whos killed during a mission in Iraq mid-way through the deployment.

The films strength comes from the intensely psychological approach taken by the screenplay, with the interplay between an EOD techs studied intellect, selflessness and inherent recklessness moving the action in unexpected directions. James leads his team Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Spec. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) –through a smoldering cauldron of daisy-chain IED ambushes, suicide vest defusing and bomb-making terror cells.

And all that excitement is fine. But the movie jumps the tracks when the team gets involved in a bizarre sniper duel with a team of contractor Saddam hunters, sponsors a booze-fueled combatives tournament in their hooch and when James embarks on an impromptu off-FOB outing with a pistol on his belt wearing ACU trousers and a civilian sweat shirt.

Its understandable when Hollywood doesnt get it quite right. They want drama, action and flow so they take some artistic license. Im not begrudging them for relying so heavily on the bomb suit (Ive never once seen an EOD tech wear one to diffuse a roadside bomb) or fudge the radio chatter or get the raid stack wrong theres no nit picking here. But Hurt Locker is not the best action movie of the summer and it will not be studied 20 years from now. Some of the scenes are so disconnected with reality to be almost parody. And thats where a film plugging along just fine breaks down.

Its a good first attempt at an Iraq war movie that finally does some justice to the men and women who fight there. Maybe we've come through the long dark period of Abu Ghraib guilt-ridden films that tell us how bad we are as Americans and how bad an idea the Iraq war was. Theres plenty of heroism, drama and excitement in the Iraq narrative that lends itself well to the silver screen without having to engage in moral critique.

So, bravo to Kathryn and Mark Boal (the screenwriter) for bursting through the Iraq-war-guilt envelope with a solid base hit. Maybe this will encourage other filmmakers and studios to support the myriad films that could be made from the simple drama of the job our troops do every day in the worlds war zones.

4 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

This was so in your face. For the liberal movie industry to pick this film about an unpopular war as best film ahead of Avatar which tried to preach about earth love and greedy capitalists was so profound. And on top of that, a woman director got the nod ahead of her ex-husband! You have to love Hollywood.

eduard said...

The Hollywood crowd (actors,etc) is the only group who can screw up so badly and still hand out awards for themselves. This crowd is so brainwashed and they absolutely love themselves. They are nothing but a bunch of bums who became celebrities, after all, what is the difference between an actor and a celebrity?

Krokodil said...

It was OK - though slightly ruined by the nonsense bit where the hero chased after the parents, or whatever, of the young boy.

Hollywood doesn't realise that a more TRUE-TO-LIFE version of events might actually be more profound and interesting than their PC kak.

Anonymous said...

Was this an Academy winner? Huh? I watched it, and for me it was a pretty uninteresting movie, my wife lost interest 15 mins into the movie. I will rate it a 5 out of 10 at best.

Avatar was a different issue, the story is also pretty ordinary, but then the 3D made the movie. Normally my wife don't like SciFi movies, but she said she really would want to watch it again. I just wonder if it wasn't in 3D if we still would have enjoyed it as much. Rating is 8 out of 10 for me.