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Movie Review: The Hurt Locker


VetVoice ^ | Jul 21, 2009 | Brandon Friedman

Posted on 8/11/2009, 12:07:47 AM by KeyLargo

Movie Review: The Hurt Locker

by: Brandon Friedman

Tue Jul 21, 2009 at 08:45:00 AM EDT And now for something not-so-serious. I don't typically write book or movie reviews,
but after this weekend, I really felt compelled to. This movie just stuck in my craw. But take heed: This is a review for
military people. So if you've never been in the military or never been to Iraq, just stop reading this. Because if you keep
reading, I'll probably ruin what could be a pretty good action flick for you.

The Hurt Locker is a high-tension, well-made, action movie that will certainly keep most viewers on the edges of their seats.
But if you know anything about the Army, or about operations or life in Iraq, you'll be so distracted by the nonsensical
sequences and plot twists that it will ruin the movie for you. It certainly did for me.

To say that the scenes in this movie were "tactically unrealistic" wouldn't even begin to describe it. I imagine they probably
had terribly frustrated military consultants on set. You could tell they tried, but the director was like, "Nah, let's have the
three EOD guys split up alone and go chasing bad guys at night through city streets. People will love it!" And the military
consultants probably just rolled their eyes.

But let me first set the stage here: This movie is about the addictive adrenaline rush of combat--how it fuels the soldier and
how, like any drug, it can be fatal. Okay, I got that. No problem there. And as the vehicle for this type of adrenaline junkie,
the writers chose to make it about an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team--and one team member in particular. Now
that's a stressful job, so I have no problem with that plot scenario, either. Should be interesting.

But here's where the problems start. Because the script writers were, for lack of a better term, lazy, they couldn't formulate a
story tying the adrenaline rush of combat to the actual job of your average EOD soldier in Iraq. So they decided instead to
make a movie about an EOD/Ranger/sniper/commando/hero guy and his two sidekicks. Who apparently don't have access to
radios. And who travel around Iraq by themselves. In fact, most of the scenes rely on oddly and unrealistically contrived
situations to induce a stressful reaction from the audience.

And whether you're writing a screenplay or a book, this is a lazy technique. It's hard to create stress by developing a
character's personality so intricately that the audience is actually gripped by a decision the character must make with regard
to, say, suicide. On the other hand, it's easy to create stress by strapping a bomb to a guy, locking him in a metal cage/harness
with multiple heavy-duty padlocks and placing a timer on it set to expire in two minutes. As exhibited in The Hurt Locker,
this is especially effective when the EOD tech arrives on the scene with bolt cutters that don't work. Panic ensues.

But ultimately, the former technique is reflective of some great movies that stay with you. The latter is a cheap thrill you'll
forget about by Monday morning.

So, without giving away too many scenes, let's just suffice it to say, in real life, EOD techs don't conduct dangerous missions
as autonomous three-man teams without communications gear. They don't typically carjack Iraqi VCD sellers with a 9mm
while wearing civilian clothes, either. While on Camp Victory. And even if they did, they wouldn't be driven off base by the
Iraqi and dropped off at another Iraqi family's house, at which time they hop a wall, enter an unlocked door, get into an
altercation, flee the scene, and run through an Iraqi city attempting to make it back to the base.

That typically doesn't happen. Another thing you'll rarely hear in combat is an EOD E-7 suggesting to two or three of his
guys that they leave the scene of an explosion in an Iraqi city by saying: "C'mon, let's split up. We can cover more ground
that way." But you'll hear it in The Hurt Locker.

Reading all the positive reviews for this movie, I really had high hopes for it. But I just couldn't get past uber-fictional
portrayal of life in combat in Iraq. If you can, more power to you. Enjoy the movie. It's definitely not boring. As rendered,
however, it's no Full Metal Jacket, Jarhead, or even The Longest Day.

Oh, and one last complaint: If you've already watched the movie and thought you were seeing things, yes, those were
actually Vietnam-era UH-1 Huey helicopters they were using for the casualty evacuation scene.

TOPICS: Books/Literature; Military/Veterans; Music/Entertainment; TV/Movies


KEYWORDS: hurt; locker; movie; review

I saw "HURT LOCKER", yesterday and concur with VetVoice review of the movie.

It is a good action movie for guys, but for those that have been in the military and worked in specialized units such as EOD it
is laughable. I like the films of actor David Morse who was "Colonel Reed" in the film. I have known a few officers that
would fit the role of Col. Reed though.

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GxSDZc8etg

About by: VetVoice Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 13:39:46 PM EDT

VetVoice is the online home of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. It is for Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard members,
as well as for veterans, their families, and their supporters. VetVoice is where we can come together to sound off on the
issues that concern all of us.

VetVoice aims to be a nexus for information and opinion on war news, war politics, deployments, optempo, veterans' issues,
troops' families' issues, and more.

1 posted on 8/11/2009, 12:07:47 AM by KeyLargo


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To: KeyLargo

Condemned to play in one boondocks theater in my area. The kiss of death for a film.

2 posted on 8/11/2009, 12:13:16 AM by pabianice


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To: KeyLargo

Im not a vet, but I saw the movie twice in three days and loved it. I think even I was aware that some of the scenes - the trip
in search of Beckhams presumed killers, the search for the perpetrators of the fuel-tanker blast - were highly improbable, but
this was a movie, not a documentary. But I think the movie captured the essence of the insurgent phase of the Iraq war, i.e.,
dealing with an enemy that mingles with the general public and will stop at nothing - including setting booby-traps in corpses
- to kill you.

3 posted on 8/11/2009, 12:50:08 AM by Steve_Seattle ("Above all, shake your bum at Burton.")
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To: KeyLargo

I agree. The action scenes were exciting and the acting was quite good, but the whole plot line rambled and did not make