Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First great movie about the second Iraq War.

A quote at the beginning of "The Hurt Locker" says it all: "War is a drug." Of course if you watch the preview above, you know it's not just referring to our bombastic and bellicose government leaders or the Military-Industrial Complex.

"The Hurt Locker" is about what it takes to survive in an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit (EOD bomb squad) in the middle of the war which has had more need for a bomb squad than any other in history. Jeremy Renner plays the bomb defuser with a reckless streak, and his survival instincts are to throw caution to the wind and dive in head-first. To him, human emotions like fear, doubt, caution, prudence and the desire for self-presevation will just get you killed.

I have to give Renner credit because I honestly thought he was a terrible actor before this movie. He plays it perfectly, though, and pulls off the cowboy act without descending into farce. This probably has something to do with Kathryn Bigelow's direction and because of the crew's focus on realism. The script comes from a journalist who was actually embedded with an EOD crew in 2004. Most of the Iraqis are played by Iraqi refugees who escaped across the Jordan border during the war. Renner, who trained with EOD for the movie, said that shooting in Jordan added to the authenticity.
There were two by fours with nails being dropped from two-story buildings that hit me in the helmet and they were throwing rocks... we got shot at a few times while we were filming," Renner said. "When you see it, you're gonna feel like you've been in war."
I certainly can't claim to know what it's like in Baghdad, but I definitely felt like this helped me imagine what it might be like. It also became that much harder to imagine why we would put a bunch of kids in harm's way to fight a war against an invisible idealogy like terrorism. For the bomb squad, they never actually see an enemy army or an objective to accomplish to win the war. The IEDs are just a bunch of crude wires connected to things that will get them killed.

Defusing the bomb neither accomplishes an objective nor makes the United States any safer. It simply allows the EOD to live another day and continue defusing more bombs--to get another fix. War really is a drug.


  1. Bravo Well written and I think you are spot on about the film and what it depicts. When someone is on the ground their motives change, or on the other many levels of war.....their motives change. Through a well crafted movie the point is made "war is a drug". I'm glad you aren't there to report in person.

  2. I can't wait to see this film. I've read nothing but great things about it, and I trust your judgment.