"The Hurt Locker"

Posted: Jul 12, 2009 6:28 PM

Several weeks ago, there was a major milestone in the war in Iraq that did not receive the news coverage it merited. As NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reported on June 29th about that milestone, "Pentagon and military officials report that the withdrawal of most U.S. military forces from Iraq's major cities has been completed a day ahead of tomorrow's deadline."  However, even with this dramatic change, American soldiers based in that country will continue to face real threats there as they work in partnership with the Iraqi military. One of the threats that Americans will continue to face in that nation is the threat of explosive devices, a threat that is explored in the new Iraq war film “The Hurt Locker”.

“Three members of the Army’s elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad battle insurgents and one another as they search for and disarm a wave of roadside bombs on the streets of Baghdad- in order to try and make the city a safer place for Iraqis and Americans alike.” So states the website of the film in describing the film's plot. The movie, like many other films about the war in Iraq, has been criticized by some in terms of its overall message about the war. (i.e. Does the movie support the war? Is it anti-war?) I can completely understand the rationalization behind such questions that speak to the intent of the film.

However one feels about the motives of the creators of this film, though, I think the film does an excellent job in capturing the intensity of being in a war zone and especially the immense intensity of a team of soldiers whose goal it is to disable explosive devices. While watching the film, there were numerous times that I wanted to look away from the screen so as to avoid being surprised by a bomb that suddenly explodes as it is being disarmed. The men and women who are in Iraq today disarming bombs have no such luxury and if a bomb explodes while they are trying to disarm it, they will likely be killed or seriously injured by it. With that in mind, I think the movie does a good job in conveying what this work entails and the inevitable risks that these soldiers, like so many others, face in doing their jobs. 

On the other hand, I did have some concerns about the portrayal of the soldiers in the film. At times, some of the characters take unnecessary risks and the lead character himself puts himself and his team at a greater risk than is necessary in the war zone. I understand that soldiers on such a team are in danger because of the job itself but was it necessary for the filmmakers to say that some soldiers are so willing to put themselves in danger that they invite greater danger into their lives? Was it necessary for the film to make it seem like war and danger are druglike experiences that soldiers can become addicted to? Such ideas seem out of place in a film like this that has a much greater story to tell about a group of soldiers that we do not hear enough about.

Again, overall, I did enjoy the film for its portrayal of how soldiers often put themselves in harm’s way to protect the citizens of foreign countries. The men in this movie work to disable explosive devices knowing that a simple mistake or an overeager terrorist could kill them at any moment and those risks and acts of bravery should be explored more in films. 

Even after the recent milestone in Iraq, such bravery is still on display from our soldiers in that nation and in other nations and movies like "The Hurt Locker" remind us of the incredible risks that our soldiers continue to take for the benefit of others.

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