They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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An Explosive Iraq War Movie

An Unconventional Holiday Film

Though it has been moved to the "cheap" theatre in the Jack Loeks chain in Grand Rapids, The Hurt Locker is about the only 4-star movie playing in the area. Which is a shame, because this is a movie worth seeing. It slipped into town and I might've forgotten about it, except that ellen_datlow went to see it the other day and raved about it -- so when we were looking at movies to see this weekend, we put this up at the top of the list.

The Hurt Locker [R]
Celebration Cinema Woodland, Theatre #2, 2:15pm, 2×$3.99

It's not always easy to evaluate war movies while the war is still going on. Many WWII movies were designed to buck up the home front. The Green Berets was a rah-rah version of the early Vietnam war and other films from that era were protests. What is interesting about The Hurt Locker is that it strikes me as something of an "it is what it is" movie.

In the movie we are following an EOD team -- Explosive Ordnance Disposal. With the deployment of all manner of IEDs and suicide bombers and booby-traps, this is a very different task than was say portrayed in the 1979 British WWII TV series Danger UXB. The look of the heat and the environment is totally realistic and a small part of my mind kept wondering where they had filmed it -- turns out it was shot mainly in Jordan and many of the Iraqis in the film were recruited from Iraqi refugees. The main cast of three are actors unknown to me, though Guy Pearce, Ralph Fines, David Morse and Lost's Evangeline Lilly have small parts.

Just last night I was watching an episode of Lock 'N Load on The History Channel with former USMC Sgt. R. Lee Ermey and the topic was vehicles used in Iraq. They detailed why the Humvee was so vulnerable to IEDs and talked about the various models of MRAPs. It is ironic that an EOD team is driving around by themselves in a Humvee, at risk to the very IEDs they are out there to work on.

Much like Clint Eastwood's Heartbreak Ridge, officers don't come off very well. Though we are made to wonder whether the one bomb tech is unstable or unhinged at times, what we're seeing is a unit sent in by themselves, with the regular troops pulled back behind a perimeter and operating by themselves. They don't seem to have much direct supervision, even though someone is obviously sending them on their missions.

There are not easy decisions being made here. This is not an easy film to watch, because like real war, you don't know what is going to happen next. But in my opinion it is done very straight -- there is both bravery and stupidity being shown. As one slice of the war, one which many are not going to be familiar with, we see as if in real life many of the bits and details which years of war coverage have shown us, both good and bad. It is what is it.

When the credits were rolling, I was intrigued to see that the director was a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. I just don't recall too many war movies being made by women. So what else has she done? Point Break, Strange Days and K-19: The Widowmaker. Barry Ackroyd, the cinematographer for United 93, brings a gritty and multi-camera realism to the film. The script was written by a man who had been embedded with an EOD team.

I doubt that any war movie of any era can completely capture or convey the feelings and reality of war -- something that I have never personally experienced. But this isn't a George Clooney vehicle or a big budget studio production. It has a ring of truth to it. It is what it is. And what it is, is pretty damned good.

Highly Recommended

Trailers: Several trailers for things we've seen or are already out, such as District 9, GI Joe, Inglorious Bastards. One of the new trailers is for an armored car heist movie with Lawrence Fishburne and Jean Reno (!). Okay -- I'd go see that. (grin)

Dr. Phil
Tags: movies, reviews, trailers, war

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