Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker was a movie I was trying to see for a few weeks now and I'm glad I finally got to it. As a veteran of one tour in Afghanistan, I wanted to see how this film, which was being wildly acclaimed by critics, captured the reality of combat and the Middle East.

I knew the guys who were scared shitless and try to pretend like they weren't afraid of anything. I knew the cool, collected professionals who seemed invincible and were suddenly dead. I still know the guys who cannot seem to get enough of the life and leave everything behind just to go back for more. And I was the one who never thought there would be enough time in his life to do all the things that he dreamed of doing. The actors did not merely play these characters, instead they played real people who have lived and died in that environment over the past seven years. There were the special operatives like Ralph Fiennes who were so bad ass in our eyes until we found out how much money they made and the field grade officers like David Morse who lived vicariously through our fear and tension. But, inside of everyone, was a guy like Staff Sergeant William James, a man who, like the film itself, put politics to the side and got down to business. In their own way, I think that everyone was affected by their time overseas. While not everyone grieved over a misidentified body or charged headlong into the dark after the enemy, I did take up smoking during my time in the service and always sacrificed safety for comfort.

And in order to not turn this blog about movies into a blog about old war stories, all credit due to Kathryn Bigelow, director of such classics as Point Break, Blue Steel (huge Jamie Leigh Curtis fan), and unbelivably hot for being almost sixty. She captures the essence of this male dominated world perfectly. I marveled over the fact that a woman who had never seen combat, except for a brief marriage to James Cameron, could make the most realistic war movie since Jarhead. The sheer physics of the two large explosions that bookend the film are unlike anything you might have seen, but absolutely authentic to the things I have seen. The first boom boom sicked me back into the world, where I was deathly still during a sniper shootout and running immediate action drills in my head at every firefight. At the end of the picture, I was grateful again for being able to live the constantly dull life that I had hoped to see again when I was on the other side of the world. Not too many movies can make me feel that much better about my life and certainly not one that mirrored a previous incarnation of my own so closely.

If the Academy expanded the Best Picture field to ten nominees and The Hurt Locker is not nominated, then the gesture will have been meaningless.


The Mad Hatter said...

Great piece with a different perspective than many of us can provide.

I mentioned on someone else's blog yesterday, that the fact that real explosives were used rather than Michael Bay-esque pyrotechnics really went a long way to make those blasts feel more deadly.

And I'm with you - with ten nominations to be had, there is NO reason this movie shouldn't make the cut.

Big Mike Mendez said...

A lot of sites have been posting the first ten or eight minutes of the movie to get people in and watching it in the theatre, I realized that anybody can recreate the back and forth between the soldiers, but once that bomb goes off, I knew the movie was for real.

Yea, so far, probably the best movie I've seen this year.

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