The other night I was at my friend’s house and we decided to watch a movie. He has 3 deployments under his belt (2 to Afghanistan and 1 to Iraq) and of course I have my experiences. He spent $5.99 on the movie, The Hurt Locker. I had heard mixed reviews about it, from “very realistic” to it being a “piece of crap” movie. One opinion that I held the highest was from a friend who was a technical adviser on the movie. However he was only on staff of the movie for 2 weeks. As soon as he got his first and only paycheck he ran from the project as fast as he could.
I have found the best way to break down a movie for review is to highlight the bad things and then the good things and then wrap it up with a summary. Well in this case why don’t I start with the good things, since that is a much shorter list.
There were only two good things in this movie and by good I mean realistic. These were the way that iraqi civilians were portrayed as always watching and leering at the soldiers and the way the explosions happened. Rather than the over-the-top, fuel-infused, fireball style explosions that are normally in Hollywood movies, the ones that happened in this movie were very realistic. They were true to form in that they showed the violence of a shockwave and dust all at once. I could see why there were some warnings on the internet for those with combat experience about watching it. It is understandable why some could have issues with watching this movie.
Well that was it for what was realistic in the movie. So let me list what wasn’t realistic. Just about everything else. Before I had seen this movie, I had the impression that it may be a movie that could be closely compared to what it would be like if a few ex-EOD guys were sitting around a bar years after being in war together telling war stories to hapless civilians. Now that I have seen it, I can honestly say that is what it was like. The life of an EOD tech is not that glamorous and is really filled with 95% boredom. However in this portrayal you would think that they have the most exciting job in the world that is part wire cutter and part door kicker.
The movie actually started with inaccuracies from the opening scene. The movie was supposed to have taken place in 2004, when very few soldiers in the Army (pretty much only General Officers) had been issued ACUs. Yet every single soldier was wearing ACU uniforms and not one soldier was wearing DCUs, which was the main issued uniform at the time. In fact the only soldier not wearing ACUs was the character of SFC James who was supposed to be some vet from Afghanistan and he had a woodland BDU helmet cover and body armor. There was no soldiers being sent in to Iraq in 2004 with woodland camo. There were some soldiers issued woodland camo, but I think about 90% had DCU, yet there were no characters in this movie that had tri-color DCU patterns.
There were also multiple M1117 ASVs shown in the film as if they were everywhere. I guess that must have been the only vehicle that the production studio could have gotten its hand on because only one MP Company had ASVs in Iraq in 2004. Those are just the logistic pieces that were mis-represented in this movie, but those are not that important. I mean they don’t add or detract from the story, but are just the mistakes noted by a trained eye.
What was important to me was the way this movie mis-represented the military, the tactics and the overall conduct of many brave men and women in combat (especially Iraq). Three EOD guys spend the entire movie running around Baghdad by themselves in a Humvee. Almost never with other units and in one scene even completely by themselves out in the open Iraqi desert. That is so BS it isn’t even funny. I know that sometimes EOD teams need to get away from populated areas in order to blow ordinance, but they never do that by themselves and never without security. Of course in this one scene they somehow come across some type of British mercenary or special operations team escorting prisoners. This turns into a sniper vs. sniper battle with some insurgent snipers in the only structure for as far as the eye can see. These Brits who don’t have a way to change a flat tire, somehow have a Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle. Even with this firepower I guess they are not smart enough to use it and their british sniper ends up sky-lining himself and getting taken out in one shot, dead center by a insurgent sniper. The EOD jr. sergeant is somehow a skilled sniper and knows his way around a Barrett. The renegade sr. sergeant is a skilled spotter and together they posses the rare abilities to maintain patience and discipline to stay in shooting positions that only the best trained snipers can do. Of course it must have been while this scene was being filmed that the actor playing the jr. enlisted (and third member) of the EOD team wanted to get at least one shooting scene. While the “super disciplined” EOD snipers sat in place, the jr soldier along with two British mercs hide behind a dirt wall and all by himself and without any help from the brits, the junior soldier sees one, and only one, Insurgent drawing a bead on him and he asks his EOD sergeants what he should do. They tell him to “handle it” and he shoots and kills this guy (even though the enemy already has the soldier in his sights) and without the brits even flinching.
Other scenes where I dropped the WTF flag are ones where the jr. soldier is completely disrespectful and insubordinate to a Lt. Colonel doctor or where the three of them get knee-walking drunk and the two sergeants have to carry each other, stumbling drunk across a huge FOB and never get stopped by anyone. Of course there is every time that the sr. Sergeant (James) defuses a bomb and simply does it by cutting wires and usually only at the last second. Lets not forget that the jr. soldier sometimes sat in the back of the vehicle while they were out riding by themselves and was not up on the gun until told to do so.
At another point in the movie, the SFC James character sneaks out of one of the largest FOBs in Iraq and has a DVD vendor drop him off at a house that the soldier thinks is the family of a slain child. When that meeting goes to hell, this soldier in desert boots, ACU military pants and a blue hoodie runs through all of downtown Baghdad and amazingly finds his way right back to his FOB without one single Iraqi capturing him and cutting his head off. When trying to get back into the FOB, the gate guards (many of them) allow him back in the FOB because he promised to tell them where an Iraqi brothel is located. Need I remind you this is 2004, in which the month of November is still noted as the month where we have lost the most American servicemembers during the entire war. This is also the same 2004 where we saw the major battles in Fallujah in the months of April and November.
Near the end of the movie they go out to do a bomb damage assessment and even though there are apparently about 100 infantry soldiers at the scene also, SFC James takes his two fellow EOD “heroes” and they go down three separate alleys looking for a triggerman of an explosion that had to have happened more than an hour prior. There isn’t an infantrymen in basic training that would go down an alley by himself in Iraq in 2004 at night. Not one, not EVER.
There were many other scenes and things that happened in this movie that were complete bull*** also, but I am just tired of writing about them. Watching this movie was like watching two trains heading towards each other at 25mph on the same track. You know its going to be bad and you know you have time to turn away, but you just can’t. You have to watch to see how bad it is gong to be. My buddy wasted his money on this movie and went to bed half-way through. I stayed up to watch it, because I just had to watch how much worse it could possibly get. I was amazed that a movie so bad could get any kind of accolades from anyone.
Some say “who cares, it is only a movie”, but I can’t look at it that way. I had 78 of my soldiers in Iraq in 2004 of which only 77 came back. I consider this movie a complete sign of disrespect to them and all of the other soldiers that have not only served in Iraq but especially those that have served in the EOD. If anyone who has never served in he Global War on Terror thinks this movie represents what it is like, then you they are completely and utterly wrong. They could not be further from the truth.
What is your opinion of The Hurt Locker?
- It was good filmmaking, and I like it for that reason (26%, 34 Votes)
- Loved it, thought it was a great movie and deserves an Oscar (23%, 30 Votes)
- Couldn't stand it. It was so fake that it should not get any award (15%, 19 Votes)
- It was ok (neutral response) (13%, 17 Votes)
- Terrible, it was one of the worst movies ever made and disrespects our military (10%, 13 Votes)
- Did not like it, as I thought it was poorly made (8%, 10 Votes)
- Awesome, it was a great representation of soldiers in war (6%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 131