Monday, July 27, 2009

The Hurt Locker

I feel completely unqualified for critiquing The Hurt Locker as a war film as I’ve obviously never gone to war or defused anything other than fights at the various bars I’ve poured drinks at over the years. Calming down a belligerent skinhead is far different from sweating over a 30 pound IED, though they can both get you your face removed. After reading a few reviews that highlighted some very minor faults in the facts, but almost unanimously praised the film (see Tom Rick’s Foreign Policy review here), there’s little I can contribute. Really. Very little.

I can’t boast that it feels completely real or that they nailed the emotional and physical exhaustion of the men – I can’t tell you how well Kathryn Bigelow illustrated the maddening frustration of the soldiers who witness death every day. And there’s even some powerful scene involving Iraqi civilians – children and professors – just trying make the situation livable, just trying to sell some DVDs, but other people on the internet will eventually offer insight about that as well. Not me.

Where the movie does get formulaic, though, it bends just far enough to resist cliché, and this is a strength I can comment on. War movies about people, not war, are some of the best war movies.
Hurt Locker is one hell of an entertaining, well paced movie about huge issues, and you won’t even notice it’s about huge issues until it’s done and you’re sitting on the edge of your bed, setting your alarm, saying, “Shit, that was huge.” Big hole in your exhausted heart huge.

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