Bouhammer review of The Hurt Locker

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

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47 thoughts on “Bouhammer review of The Hurt Locker”

  1. This is yet another BS war movie that my civilian friends see and then come running to me tellin me how “cool” Iraq must have been. I hate when Hollywood portrays soldiers like such adrenaline crazed humans. They never seem to get the facts straight. No matter what the history books say and the first person accounts, they will never get it right. Are we just another generation like WWII and Vietnam vets that will just be bothered for decades by movies full of inaccurate crap? I personally think so. I apologize for any spelling errors for I am typing from my phone. Thanks for te review bouhammer.

  2. “There was no soldiers being sent in to Iraq in 2004 with woodland camo. They all had tri-color DCU patterns issued.”

    This is wrong. I went over with 1st Cav, and our IBA covers were woodlands, and some people had woodlang kevlar covers. Also, some people only had 1 set of desert boots, using LPCs for the rest. Also, our wet/cold weather stuff was woodlands until we DX’d in wintertime.

    Otherwise, I agree with your review. I enjoyed the movie, but I took it with a grain of salt.

    1. You are correct Jon, and I need to make and edit to that review to reflect that. I think what my issue was that it was all ACU and one dude with some BDU…but no DCU. Which you and I both know there was no shortage of in 2004.

  3. Thank you. You absolutely nailed what I thought about this stupid movie. I was completely looking forward to seeing it, then I almost walked out. I likened the, “let’s split up” scene to an episode of ‘Scooby-Doo’, which I would much rather watch than this garbage. I hit my 20 this year and I’m really debating if I should get while the gettin’ is good. Policymakers probably watch this crap to decide how assets should be utilized! Just discovered your blog, and I will be a regular reader from now on.

  4. I am sick and tired of the military being portrayed falsely. As a former soldier and as a film major I am appauled that this film saw such acceptance as reality; as being true to war, BULL…. I can’t believe so many people thought this crap would fly. I especially was ashamed that this beastly film recently became nominated for the Oscars. I was amazed how more people from the military did not speak out against this film. I agree that we are just going to become another generation misrepresent by bad films.

  5. I am a civilian, but a military enthusiast. I liked the movie while I was watching it, but then I thought in the back of my head that there has got to be something wrong with it, but it was only things that service men and women would notice, not me. One thing I did catch that you also mentioned was the sniper scene, that bothered me a lot. I hated how they just whipped out the Barrett without getting any info about the distance or wind or anything and manage to get a shot off that happens to go near the insurgents and then they go from there. Really bothered me. The review you wrote was really helpful because I knew there were a lot of things I couldn’t have noticed but I knew were going wrong in the film. To its credit, it was nice to see a film that wasn’t totally anti-war and anti-America (AVITAR).

    twitter.com/spencerhlamb

  6. I agree with your review on many aspects, but it seems your criticisms primarily focus on how “inaccurate” the Hurt Locker is compared to reality on the ground. I agree. I’ve done 2 tours in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan, and there are many inaccuracies in this film. However, the one reality you’re missing is that a more accurate portrayal would be boring as shit to watch as a movie!! It’s Hollywood, and as far as I’ve heard no one associated with this movie has made claims that it’s any sort of accurate portrayal. It’s simply a movie that people watch as entertainment. I get that, but it seems a lot of vets don’t, which confounds me.

    1. John,

      Thanks for your service and your feedback. However it is more than a few inaccuracies. It is a gross mis-respresentation of our professional military. Yes you are right, EOD for the most part is pretty boring. Heck as you probably know, combat is 90% boredom and maybe only 10% excitement. Some would say only 1% excitement. Anyway, if EOD is boring, then change the storyline. Make it about the issues that guys go through (which they spent a whole 10 min on at the end in the grocery store and while reading to his daughter). Not a whole bunch of BS that sounds more like what some guys telling lies to impress girls in a bar. That is what I thought of when I watched it. ” so I rolled up and all the infantry guys were hiding behind this wall, but once they saw me, they all came out and did their job. They knew I would save them”. Entertainment is one thing, implying this is realistic and reality is a complete twisting of the truth and complete bullshit.

  7. I wondered how “The Hurt Locker” would be seen by professional soldiers — thanks for your insights.

    I am a professional writer, and professional historian — so here is an artistic point of view.

    First, I understand that the military would not cooperate with the uniforms and your clearly demonstrate the difficulties arising from ‘going it alone.’

    I have never been anywhere near a war, but it doesn’t take actual experience to JUST KNOW several things:

    1. Guys probably don’t drive around in the desert alone on unexplaned missions — and I do not understand the artistic reason why that the desert shootout was staged. It could be something as simple as Ralph Fiennes had a contract and the production company had to use him in one scene — he got killed off so quickly in ‘story time’ that I wondered why he was there at all. Also, the writers may have felt they needed to up the anti on action with actual guns since most of the story is about bombs and has limited shooting.

    2. The “edge of the blast zone?” He could tell that in the dark by picking an orange off the tree? Egads! That didn’t play with me either — neither did the “hey guys lets go down a dark ally.” If have never seen the “Monster from the Black Lagoon,” you might recall a similar scene. The female lead walkes out to the edge of the lagoon at night, knowing full well thers’s a monster in the water, and turns her back on the lagoon. Of course the monster grabs her and drags her under the water. This type of action/scene in storytelling is called by some people, The Woman in Jepoardy scene. Usually given to a beautiful girl so they can rip her clothes off. In The Hurt Locker, they needed to hurt the jr guy and take him off stage. If he was killed, the emotional structue would have gone in a different direction. But, to have him hurt by the Sr. guy’s decision, places the blame on the leader and that’s where the art of the film takes place. The leader must be someone who loves war regardless of how it hurts other people.

    3. The film’s theme is the love of war against the damage it does. Those kitty scenes were there for a reason, as was the little boy being killed and turned into a body bomb. To illustrate how helpless animals can’t survive the crulity of war. The junior officer character and the black offier character are both the sane, let’s take care of each other voices in the story. The junior guy is the most vulnerable emotionally and physically — he is metaphorically: a kitten. The one who gets hurt. Note: the kitten had a damaged foot. Junior officer ends up with a damaged leg.

    The Hurt Locker is about a large war theme — people get hurt. The senior officer running out in the dark on his own is a lone wolf, goes against the grain, does his own thing and people around him get hurt — he’s not a team player. But, he loves war.

    Why he loves war is addressed in the quote at the opening of the film. That he loves war is addressed in his soliloquy with his baby son. In film making that structue is called ‘bookending.’

    While the historic facts are amiss — they are always wrong in drama. I just saw a stage play written by a German playwrite 200 years ago, about Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots. It had so many historical facts wrong that I found it hard to focus on the deeper meanings of the piece. Ain’t it a bitch?

    The Hurt Locker is an amazing piece of cinematic art. In every way its a major accomplishment of story telling and film making. But, it is not a documentary neither is it an historical piece. And for all the violence, it touches its message very lightly. As opposed to Avatar, for example, which is one cliche afet another.

    The deal is, “Ya gotta stay away from those monsters in the lagoo. They are up to no good.”

    Anyway, I’m a student of the literature of war and of the antiwar novel. I don’t know of another work that asks the question about the Love of War. Well some one must love it, even if its the enemy such as Al Qaida — and since out current battlefield enemy keeps blowing up people it makes sense to create a film about bomb squads. And to put a grusome body bomb at the end of the film — how more clearly could the truth of the suicide bomber be depicted?

    Annie

    1. Annie, you are truly educated in film-makingas some others who have commented here. Ironically most of the commenters have come from two camps. Those that look at the film-making facets and those that look at the technical reality. Thank you so much for your detailed and thorough comments on my blog and for reading.

  8. I have never been in combat. Due to birth defects, by the time I am in the fight, we will be throwing rocks. All that to say I am speaking as an AF brat, and a confirmed civilian.

    However, even from my vantage point I knew there were some serious problems. For instance, as you mentioned, Wil’s off-post adventure. I can’t imagine he’d even get off the post. I remember how tight the gate was when we were on exercises in the US.

    As a pastor, I have spent time listening to veterans of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even with its inaccuracies, this film helped me grab a better understanding of the stress of combat, the way that anxiety piles up, and the disconnect of transitioning from the Hell of war to the Purgatory of the daily grind.

    Perhaps with the success of Hurt Locker, more accurate films will be produced that will give a better picture.

    I think the moment that got me was the conversation between Wil and the #2 guy about how if he dies, no one will care. That is a chord I have heard struck again and again. This country has to wake up and realize that every day, kids just out of High School, dads, moms, etc. are risking life and limb as we go about life like nothing is even going on.

    I’ve been watching Ken Burn’s documentary on WW2, and have been staggered by the differences. People giving up their bacon grease, not being able to buy tires, etc. If you tried that today, we’d impeach. People need to pull together for our guys in the field. If nothing else, I hope the movie gets folks thinking about that.

  9. Just watched it…I really, really had wanted to like it, but I pretty much agree with you.

    I hadn’t really read any good or bad reviews, but obviously I knew its accolades, so I expected something better.

    I embedded three times as a freelance photojournalist with 82nd and 25th ID infantry companies, 2007-2009 (and active duty in Desert Storm in 1991)…at no time did I see a soldier acting even slightly like any of those in this movie. The EOD guys that worked with the soldiers behaved the precise OPPOSITE of these guys….in fact, the 82nd soldiers complained how risk-averse they were.

    I can suspend disbelief for some stuff, but not most, and certainly not all.

    The British Mercenary scene was just absurd; the sneak-off-the-FOB scene impossible. But again – could it have been like that in 2004? I dunno…

    Anyway, good review and perspective. I went in hoping I’d like it, and it didn’t happen. Good action movie, but not a movie about the Iraq experience.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘disrespect,’ if only because it did show soldiers doing their job – but I understand where you’re coming from with that.

  10. I am a civilian, went and saw it w/high hopes. I was very disappointed. Out of all the most amazing, incredible, mind boggling stories that have come out of this war and this is what they made into a movie? I thought it sucked, and definitely didn’t deserve any award.

    God Bless our heroes that serve. Thank you.

  11. Hi, I watched the film last night and came to your blog via a link from Wikipedia, and would like to make a couple of points if I may. Firstly, I would like to thank you for your insights and making the efforts to share them with the wider world. This is without doubt the fantastic advantage of living in the age of communication, where people whose paths would probably never cross can have an enlightened exchange of views on any subject imaginable.

    Now I think you and many of your colleagues posting here have been prevented from enjoying this movie because you know too much about the subject matter, the absurdities of the plot are immediately evident. Its happened to me too – I lived and worked in Afghanistan for 3 years with a humanitarian NGO. When I see films like Kandahar made by an Iranian about life under the Taliban, or Beyond Borders starring Angelina Jolie working for UNHCR, I literally cringe at how bad the plots are, how utterly detached from reality the whole story is, and wonder how on earth they could have got it so wrong.

    I used to love watching MASH when I was a teenager. Now when I see a re-run it is so absurd to see Hawkeye jumping in a jeep and driving off to the front line, not telling anyone where he is going and taking no comms, getting caught by a wandering patrol of enemy North Koreans, then getting released when he treats one of their soldiers.

    I have a couple of friends who are police detectives (in London, I am British). They tell me one of the biggest headaches in their job is members of the public thinking they know what police procedure is, what their rights are, how the police should behave or react. They don’t, they’ve just been watching too much telly. There isn’t a single cop show that accurately depicts police work (even The Wire – highly acclaimed as realistic, but still contains ridiculous behaviour by the protaganists). I once shared a flat with a trainee doctor, who told me watching George Clooney in ER was like watching a Disney idea of how a hospital works.

    The point is that fictional films are never going to be accurate. That isnt their job. Film makers are professional film makers. They are not soldiers, cops or doctors. They are telling a story, and their skill is to engage the audience and keep them interested. They will concentrate on getting the best out of the actors, using camera angles and techniques, special effects and photography. Authenticity of the the plot will always take second place to excitement and tension. If you want a film about what someone actually does in their job, that would be a documentary.

    As you have pointed out, the working day of a bomb disposal expert is mostly very boring. The same could be said for almost any job. On a day to day basis, any person’s job is not that remarkable. Especially if you work in a bank, or a supermarket, but also if you are a pilot or a deep sea diver. If you tell anyone that their life must be exciting because of their job, they will tell you no its pretty routine actually. You can’t make a film out of a routine occupation – if you did, it would be an excrutiatingly tedious film.

    The bottom line is you should never expect too much of a film. They have to stretch the truth to keep it interesting. Films are like parables, they use exaggerated situations to keep the audience emotionally engaged. Think of Slumdog Millionaire – its not very likely that a boy can go on a quiz show and each question relates to an episode of his life. But its not meant to be likely, its a device to tell a story. Ever watched a production of Shakespeare’s Henry V? Completely historically inaccurate.

    The best you are going to get from a fictional film is in the human dimension – the interaction between people such as the clash of cultures, or relationship between a father and his young family, or how a macho show off winds up his team. Because these are universal themes which fim makers understand, they don’t have to be military experts to portray human relationships.

    So answer your question how could a film so bad get accolades from anyone? Because it engages the audience, keeps the tension throughout, you are always wondering when the next device will go off, it evokes a world a long way from Western suburban life, and provides a human drama. What was the last film that you saw that you really enjoyed? The chances are, if you asked someone who knows about the subject matter, they will tell you that reality is not like that.

    1. Chris,

      Thank you for your comments from your perspective. I know not all see this movie the way I or many of the other vets who feel like me do. But I am also getting a lot of comments from civilians whom also agree with my comments. You are experienced enough to see through the BS storyline and recognize the film-making for what it is. Again, thanks for your thoughtful comments and the time you took to write them.

  12. You’re right about it engaging the audience, Chris, and you’re really right about the comparisons. I’m sure if I was a cop, I’d see The Wire differently, or ER if I were a doctor.

    And…thinking about it, some of the more outlandish plot elements could have happened – the sneak off the FOB part was very unlikely, but do-able (and did happen, when those four guys murdered that Iraqi family). And, the technical aspect of EOD needs to be dramatized for the sake of the movie. So, fine.

    My issue was much more with behavior – the plot, okay, I can suspend belief. But soldiers like Sanborn don’t yell and spaz out like he did…happen once? Sure? All the time, by the same guy? In those situations? No.

    And once a viewer can’t accept the behavior of the characters, then everything else falls apart too.

    Your mention of George Clooney reminded me of “Three Kings,” about Desert Storm – which for my money is the BEST movie about DS made, and one of the more plausible war movies ever made.

    Obviously, I don’t mean the plot, which was over the top absurd. But real soldiers – if they actually stumbled into that premise – would behave pretty much just like they were portrayed. And that’s a compliment to all concerned.

    Maybe it’s because comedy is sort of easier to take seriously (if that makes sense), but I could watch it and easily say, “yeah, I would have done/said that” even if the plot never would have happened.

    “Locker” was the opposite. Basic plot? Sure, could happen. Behavior? No, not buying it.

    Also in “Kings,” not to explain the whole scene, but Clooney at one point, “then I guess we’ll buy ’em.” And that basically foreshadows the Sons of Iraq movement…so by accident it was more topical than “Locker” ever will be.

    I have not moved into any defense of “Locker.” I didn’t like it, not buying it, don’t think it did a lasting service to real soldiers except that it did show them in a generally non-political way, which I appreciated.

  13. Hello and greetings to all. My Army nickname is Alphy which is short for Alphabet. I’m 20 years-old and a recent Operation Iraqi Freedom war veteran. I served with PSD 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the Northern Baghdad and Taji area(s). Now with that said, I am disguished about how this horrible Iraqi War flim, “The Hurt Locker”, can get critical acclaim by “critics” who have never served in the U.S. military, E.O.D., and in Iraq (or Afghanistan). This movie portarys American Soldiers to be incompetent, unprofessional, and murderous psyco paths. I had purchased this movie at the real Camp Liberty at Baghdad via through Haji bootleg. I had high hopes that this flim was going to be quite good. But it failed to meet that mark. The TTP’s/SOP’s and the Soldiers themselves where plain horrible. I hope this flim loses at all catoregies that it is nominateed for. The only people that would love this flim are the same individuals who are fans of “General Hospital”.

  14. Hmm…a house full of angry hajj in the middle of nowhere…Instead of hanging out all day trying to snipe them one by one i probably would have called in an airstrike or some arty, cause theres no way I’m going to miss burrito night at the DFAC. Too effin easy. Oh wait, did those guys even have radios?

  15. I couldn’t wait to see t his movie. I had been close with a soldier who was in a PSD in Iraq and learned many things about the service through him. This movie disappointed me tremendously. I couldn’t believe when the one soldier left the base to go through town on his own and then broke into a house, escaped and got back to base. I’m a civilian with no military experience and thought it was ridiculous and portrayed soldiers in an unprofessional light. I tried to take the attitude that its just a movie and enjoy it but found too many things that just distracted me. My ex is NYPD and its the same thing with police movies. Most time on that job is boring mundane time night after night but in the movies its unrealistic and exciting for the sake of a movie and usually doesn’t bother me, but “The Hurt Locker” bothered me. Maybe it was all of the accolades. I really thought I was going to see a great movie that was completey realistic.
    I know on a separate topic that “Brothers” was not lauded in the same way, but I found that to be offensive and bad as well. I had one friend commit suicide in Kabul and the other come home from Iraq with some pretty serious issues coming back into the general population. I wish that there would be some good movie that would show what these men and women deal with when coming home.

  16. hello mr. bouhammer, i just happened to stumble upon your site after reading about the accuracy of the film on Wikipedia…….it’s interesting to see the reaction of military personnel…….i was wondering, do you have any recommendations on what movies most accurately represent life in the military and in the war zone in terms of realism?

    1. Rob, Are you looking for a feature film or a documentary? There are many documentaries that do give a great idea of what life is like in the military. For a great mini-series on the initial push into Iraq, I suggest Generation Kill.

  17. I don’t think you give civilians enough credit, they (and I did) can enjoy the movie for its adrenaline pumping portrayal of what’s its like to disarm bombs in Iraq despite its inaccuracies. Note, I said disarm bombs, not gallivant through towns or the desert (I knew those scenes weren’t exactly realistic). You can also do so and be aware of the gross inaccuracies, most of which I was aware while watching the film (Things like uniforms and vehicle I did not know about).

    I can understand why service men are upset, but remember this is not a documentary, its a film, a piece of art. It’s trying to convey a specific messages and emotions, through a compelling stories and visuals.

    From what I have seen the director and the writer were really trying to portray just how tough and harrowing a job EOD guys have on an emotional and psychological level, and I think they did that. They did that in a way that made The Hurt Locker a great film, for all the “filmy” reasons, but unfortunately not a completely realistic military portrayal. I came away from the film with a new respect for EOD service men, not thinking every EOD crew is a rouge 3 man team that goes on adventures when it suits them.

    1. Joe,

      I know there are many civilians who “get” it and I can see you are one of them. I think you are a rarity though. Perception is reality, that is a saying I use all the time because I believe it is true. Many in this country will see this movie, see the accolades it gets and then perceive it as real. There were a few things that were represented realistically in this movie, and I think I mentioned them in my original review. Everything else, he main meat of the movie, cast a bad light on our soldiers and on how things are done in combat. Don’t just take my word for it, read through the comments on this posting and you will see others feel the same way. These do not include the comments I got on Facebook or that emailed me personally who also feel as I do about this movie.

  18. I sat and watched the movie last night with my missus. Just as I said to my wife “he’s out of range and they have a 50 cal” the Iraqi hits the SAS guy with his AK at > 350 meters. That whole desert scene was pure b*ll*cks. And the scene going off base; and the scene wandering through alleys alone (kept on saying to myself….. what’s that platoon of 100 men doing?). I guess as the movie only cost 11 million and was self financed they couldn’t afford more vehicles or correct uniforms / patches.

    That being said, there was something about the way “James” character behaved that reminded me of a guy in knew many moons ago who’d been in the SBS.

  19. Great review. Have you ever read Tom Clancy’s “Clear and Present Danger”? The movie was atrocious and ended up with Harrison Ford and Willem Dafoe running around like city slickers.
    I loved “Three Kings”…I’ll go rent “generation kill.” thanks for the recommendations.

    Maybe after watching Generation Kill i’ll try watching Hurt Locker. maybe. It’s just that hurt locker’s military adviser pulled out at the last minute that bugs me. I mean, in my eyes, if you’re going to make a war movie for god’s sake listen to your damned military adviser…otherwise, well it’s just shameful.

    The only reason i’m even half interested is that it beat out Avatar and Inglourious Basterds. The fact the German character got the Academy Award™ is a little fishy. That and the directer of Hurt Locker being the ex of James Cameron sounded a little bitchy. But, hey! hollywood can get behind the troops and cheer like the best of them…right?
    I don’t see any other good reason for such accolades.

    Thanks for warning me off trash, and turning me onto watching Generation Kill. Maybe the only good thing the academy awards ever did. lol

    1. Colin, I know what you mean. I read all the Tom Clancy books and none of them ever did it for me. Another great movie that has many realisms in it is The Kingdom. The representations of that area in Saudi Arabia, the dress, behaviors, etc. are all pretty dead on. Explosions are even a little too realistic.

  20. Thank YOU! I HATED this movie. I am not even IN the military any more (being an old broad now!) and kept going “That isn’t RIGHT?!” I disliked Ms. Cameron’s main premise that SFC James acted as he did only for the adrenalin rush—-I find that a very insulting way to criticize the war—-by criticizing the folks fighting it.
    .-= Labrys´s last blog ..Hurt Locker IS a Pain =-.

  21. “The life of an EOD tech is not that glamorous and is really filled with 95% boredom.”

    And in your mind, this would have made a good movie, because it is “realistic.”

    It wasn’t a documentary…and perhaps you didn’t notice that when the main character did the things you’re saying he shouldn’t do, the other characters agreed with you and resented him for it. David Morse’s character ripped into him, Sanborn punched him, Eldridge cursed him instead of saying goodbye. The guy’s addicted to danger…how exactly would a movie about a guy addicted to danger have played if he had done things by the book the whole time?

    There’s a reason they don’t teach writing or directing via yelling, repetition, and deprivation. Keep your day job. 🙂

    1. J, I was stating fact, they could have made a movie just about those 5% times, and kept this movie interesting. And not have to play it up with B6 qualified EOD techs, infantryman hiding and scared until the EOD idiots showed up, or showed sr. NCOs stumbling through a huge camp drunk or better yet running through downtown in ACU pants and living to tell about it after bribing a whole bunch of secfor with a top on a supposed whore-house.

      Yeah they could have done more to make it realistic, keep it interesting and not make the American soldiers look like such an unprofessional ass.

  22. I think you’re misunderstanding the Hollywood mentality. The purpose of a “War Movie” has always been to make money first. With the possible exception of “All Quiet on the Western Front” and maybe a few others, almost every one of them are pure entertaining bullshit. Even the documentaries (Hell, especially the documentaries). I can’t think of one WW2, Korean or VeitNam (my war) or any other that came close to getting it right. Your war won’t be any different, and it won’t change for the next one. Face it, real warfare just wouldn’t be entertainment for anyone but a few really sick fucks. But without them, where would all the Chickenhawks get the inspiration to send soldiers off to die in worthless places for dubious causes?

  23. I just saw the movie last night and I noticed some other weird things that bothered me. For one, where in the world was the company commander during all of this? In fact, where in the world was the rest of the company for that matter? Second, I’m pretty sure any recovered bomb components would not be allowed to be kept as souvenirs. They’d be collected, analyzed and forwarded to Battalion for further analysis. Suffice to say, I was not impressed with this overly-hyped movie.

  24. Its amazing to me these reactions to the Hurt Locker. I appreciate that the veteran necessarily sees a movie like this through different eyes than the civilian, but is it really so hard to suspend disbelief? Are things like artistic license, symbolism, and creativity meaningless next to a quest for 100% accuracy?

    Find me a movie that’s 100% accurate, whatever the subject. Whether it deals with war, politics, romance, history, football, music, biography, a video game or whatever. Its impossible, and its especially hard to hold a film to this standard when it doesn’t ever claim to be 100% true to life.

    @ Darrell Smith

    I think its funny that you lump this movie in with the rest of the garbage Hollywood pumps out in order to make a quick buck, given that the Hurt Locker was in very limited release and is the lowest grossing Best Picture winner of all time. If the goal here was to make money they they really, really dropped the ball.

  25. Okay, as a civilian this is what i got from the movie….I don’t know the technically proper names or specific in and outs of your equipment and if you had certain stuff in 2004 when you actually didn’t get it ’til say 2010. And i don’t care… It’s a hollywood movie and i know that. Neither am I so stupid that i didn’t recognize the insanity of someone wandering around Irag by himself. Anyone who expects accuracy from Hollywood is naieve just ask a cop about their “accurate” representation in movies. And what i keep hearing from veterans the most is alot of condescending military “inspeak” that an outsider, a civilian couldn’t possibly understand. What i keep hearing is how this movie was disrespectful to the military and i absolutely disagree with that. What the movie gave me was a greater appreciation for the conditions under which american soldiers do their jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan…in particular my nephew…the emotional and physical stress they endure on a daily basis, never knowing who is the enemy and who is the civilian and what that must do a soldiers pysche. And yet, and yet soldiers still keep it together and follow protocol and basically do the best they can do. So which would you rather want as a veteran, accuracy in equipment or the average american getting a small glimpse, a slanted one to be sure,of what it might be like for a soldier in those god forsaken places. i can never ever presume to know what it’s like to be one but i’m not stupid to think that you’re all psychotic mavericks putting your troops at risk through disrespectful and dangerous behavior.
    And one more thing…when criticizing this movie it’s all from an american point of view . I got the feeling that the iraq people were ghosts or cardboard cutouts and i would like to know more about them. Are they that brutal that they would kill a child so they can place a bomb inside of them..are they that horrible that they would entice children and civilians with candy just so they can blow them up.Are they that f’ed up or is it just some controlling the many. I don’t know and I’m just asking… All i can say is that no matter what you think of the movie it made me have greater than ever respect for what you as american soldiers are trying to do.

  26. Hi there, I happened upon this film last night in German on their TV channel. Let me first say that I have contracted for the US military here in Germany (7ATC Grafenwöhr) so I have some familiarity with Army ways. I’ve also lived in the Arabian Gulf, travelled across its deserts so the desert scenes were evocative for me.

    I found the tension evoked by the film brought back powerful memories of life in the Gulf for me. I lived in Dhahran at its University mapping marine habitats for Saudi Aramco, so I know the sheer anarchy of the place.

  27. Regarding the technical facets, movies are limited by available equipment. Afterall, Patton and Kelly’s Heroes weren’t exactly historically accurate in those regards either.

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