Monday, February 01, 2010

Movie Review: The Hurt Locker

So, I had The Hurt Locker on my Netflix list and then my neighbor foisted a stolen copy upon me. I felt bad - I didn't want to make a fuss with my neighbor about the illegal copy.

Anyways, I was looking forward to seeing the movie. There was a lot of buzz. For example, a reviewer on the DVD box called it "one of the defining movies of the decade". Hey, now, you don't hear that very often.

In broad strokes, the movie is about a team of soldiers in Iraq in 2004 whose job is to defuse Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). It's obviously a high-stress job. The movie, in part, is about the dichotomy between the daily adreneline rush active duty soldiers experience and the monotony of civilian life when they are not deployed. More on that later.

The movie is a very good (it seems) depiction of the life of our soldiers in Iraq. It is interesting to me that so few of this type of movie have been made. It seems that most Iraq War movies are intended only to disparage either our government (c.f. George W. Bush) or, what's much worse, our soldiers. This movie doesn't put our soldiers on a pedastal, but nor does it tarnish their much deserved reputation for bravery and service.

I'd be interested to hear a veteran's opinion of the authenticity of the movie's depiction of life for our soldiers in Iraq.

I'm not sure how much of a cohesive 'theme' this movie has. I think, in large part, it is just asking you to experience the daily life of these men and to have some sympathy for what their service does to them mentally - especially in the near-daily brushes with death and violence. It's a worthy message.

An unfortunate, and neither unexpected nor unrealistic, element of the movie is the contrast between the 'excitement' of active military duty and the 'boredom' of civilian life. Of course, it's more than just 'excitement' and 'boredom'. Soldiers of every nation go through something that can't really be related to anything in civilian life. Living your life under contstant threat of a violent death does something to you. On the other hand, it is also true that ordinary life is too often identified with a boring life. Ordinary life is not boring.

Upon reflection, the movie may tell this story, too. Sometimes it's easier to face an IED than your wife. Courage comes in many forms, and is just as necessary in the ordinary events of life as it is in the extraordinary.

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