Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Watched Hurt Locker... again.

I want to like Hurt Locker. I tried to like Hurt Locker. I bit my lip and sat on my profession and gave the film another chance. People tell me it's well written, well directed, and well acted. This time, I watched the film with a collection of non-military family and friends. I gave it an honost try.


This remains the single-most unrealistic and unprofessional portrayal of Soldiers in Iraq to date. The Sergeant in this film would have gotten totally burned by his chain of command five minutes into the film. The problem is I'm too close to this and have way to much respect for real Soldiers who go about their business in a professional manner.

These dudes would have never been allowed off the FOB by themselves. Never. Three vehicles is the minimum. EOD never rolls without a platoon in escort. They're too valuable. A colonel would never 'tag along' with an EOD team just to get out of the office, and then wander around an unsecured site while an EOD team does a non-tactical, 3-man clearance of a warehouse. A Soldier leaving the base solo and coming back in plain clothes would have been arrested and hung out to dry. No exceptions. We respect our own safety too much to give the guy a pass. There have been documented incidents of guys who go native try to go out and give intel to the bad guys. How do the Soldiers at the gate know the sergeant wasn't off base helping direct a mortar attack on the FOB?

Hurt Locker makes the rest of us look like a bunch of adventure-hungry, boozing, jack-asses. The leadership in this movie is worse because they actually appear to condone it. The reality is most of us take pride in our job, deal with the challenges, and really only care about getting home to our families without endangering our Soldiers by taking unnecessary risks.

I can't say it's well written because it's flips on its side some basic ideals by which we go about doing business. It's well acted and well shot. The cinematography was excellent. It does represent good storytelling. I just wish they chose a different setting and country. The buffoonery in this film is more applicable to the some third-world military. Not ours.

I'm done.


Angela Addams said...

Very interesting review. I haven't seen the movie yet but it is one on my list.

I find I have the same problem when I watch or see things that make judgements on my profession...(for the sake of my pen name, I'm keeping that confidential) I find that it's hard to detach myself from the reality of the job compared to the lack of reality in the movies.

http://dbreynolds.wordpress.com said...

Well, bummer. I liked this movie! Although, in almost any fictional presentation, one must always grant a certain dramatic license.

Ken said...

Sometimes it's hard to seperate the uniform and perspective. When you put some much of your blood, tears, and sweat into an endeavor larger than yourself, it makes taking an objective look at a movie like Hurt Locker all the more difficult.

Opie Taylor said...

I didn't like it at all. Slow, boring...heck, I only went through ROTC and even I knew that it was very unrealistic. A subordinate punching a superior?! Give me a break! I don't like critiquing films, I just like watching them, but I just couldn't get into this movie. Maybe if it was more made up with the EOD team trying to catch and stop a mastermind bomb maker with some massive plan to blow up the UN or something like that. I love war movies, not war dramas without a point.

Kritz said...

I'm also a nonsoldier, although I was in Iraq in 2003-2004.

I also thought "Hurt Locker" sucked, but not only because it was unrealistic from an EOD point of view, it was unrealistic from a human point of view. I mean, c'mon, the main character goes through hell, and doesn't change one whit. No evolution, no growth, no insight.

It was also unrealistic from a filmic point of view -- where was the drama, the intensity, the pace, the point, the focus? Mostly absent.

Doesn't really matter what your relationship to movies or the military or politics might be: this movie is a stinker.

Anonymous said...

I liked it. If the points are (1)war can make you an adrenaline junkie (there was a big hint at the beginning) and 2) your men in uniform have a tough job to do, then mission accomplished. The audience that is DRAWN to the movie most likely has a military background, or has some common sense about these matters. We don't need to see the "textbook" way to clear a warehouse, or be told you can't go out at night by yourself in order to appreciate the movie. Why do you "accuracy" types always forget the people you want to educate never even saw the movie? Those teenagers went to go see Percy Jackson and the Olympians. When you put down a movie like this because it didn't break out the manual and show how it is really done (which would have destroyed the dramatic tension), you miss the forest for the trees. Hurt Locker is the balance that must be struck in order to get normal people a view into the high-stakes world of modern combat. (Ex-military, Army)

Alex said...

Awesome review. I don't buy anyone's counter-argument that reviews like yours coming from real professionals are nitpicking on details and forgetting about artistic license. The pretense of this film is that it is "realistic," so the fact that it is total BS in the eyes of the guys who are actually doing the work is completely legit criticism. If you have time, would love to read your impressions after this film cleaned up at the Oscars.

Anonymous said...

Beeing a soldier (LTC) myself I think, that the last minutes of the movie come down to the main point: sooner or later you're unfit for "normal" life and all you want is another tour of duty ... have you ever been shopping at the BX with your wife after such a tour? No chance to catch up with offers an the overwhelming variety of thing to buy, after month, in which a warm shower was pure luxory ...