Dueling Film Reviews - Round One: WHayes on The Hurt Locker

Posted 2/05/2010 by WHayes in Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,
We of the internet have to reign in a bad trend, and try to use our hyperbole responsibly. I'm pretty successful at this, so when I tell you that "TiK ToK" was "pants-shittingly average," you can be sure that I meant it. That said, The Hurt Locker is that war movie Bush-era Iraq desperately needed, and I love it.

I missed the film during its initial theatrical run, and went in completely inundated with months of the endless praise heaped on Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to K-19: The Widowmaker (remember that one?). Does it deserve it? Sure it does, but I entreat you to watch the film for yourself before hinging your decision to see it on what Jon and I are doing here: we're looking at the film from very specific lenses, and dissecting very specific parts. You may not see what we see, and that's perfectly fine. Unless you're Jon, in which case, f*ck what you see, just read.

Catch that? That flagrant foul in verbally assaulting my co-blogger in order to get my point across? It was reckless, right? Going by Locker logic, that's exactly what needed to happen, and no I don't need to explain myself, because it had to be done, and deep down you agree. Like I said, I love the movie, but Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team leader SFC Will James (Jeremy Renner) embodies that type of cowboy mentality to the fullest. He strolls head-first down an unprotected alley, discards his bombsuit for better access at a rigged Hyundai (fun fact: I dated a girl who drove that exact same car, and hers was a death-trap too), will randomly go radio-silent, (temporarily) AWOL, and leads his severely underpowered team on a late-night insurgent hunt better suited for an entire platoon.

Don't think these are the actions of a man with a death wish and nothing to lose. James has a family he (likely) loves, and, as team leader, has lives to protect. No, in Locker logic, this is what a man does when there's a goddamn job to do. That's pretty damn Bush. Does it make Bigelow pro-war or pro-Iraq? I wouldn't say that, but do think she very effectively communicates her understanding the need to, now that we're (t)here, get things done so we can all go home. In the words of Sgt. JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), "it's life or death. You roll the dice, and you deal with it."

This message works precisely because Bigelow treats us to a focused microcosm of the larger conflict: one that's easy for us to understand, digest, and pick the right protagonist to root for (hers), regardless of our stance on the moral quandary of the war itself. EOD is rarely shown interacting with larger infantry units, and only one superior officer, Colonel Reed (David Morse, that guy you've seen in everything).

Reed is Bush as hell, and in the short glimpses of him we get, I'm not quite sure you'd call him a role model. We thus spend almost the entire film with EOD, and the exposure naturally humanizes them, to the point where James can go off and do some wild shit, but we're still right there with him, because we know deep inside that he's got the best of intentions. For further proof of that, look again at the incredible desert sniper standoff with the British PMC. There's not only leadership, but friendship there. He cares about his team, so you know he won't lead them astray. Not with lives at stake.

This is the kind of filmmaking Goebbels Scott McClellan would have killed for, because it reminds you that at the very base of the Iraqi conflict, fighting for good is a human cause we cannot afford to lose. Kathryn Bigelow is no shill, but she makes a hell of a point that whatever you choose to do, just get it done. If you fail, bad shit can happen:

4 comment(s) to... “Dueling Film Reviews - Round One: WHayes on The Hurt Locker”


CtotheB said...

I need to watch this movie now.

Rofl at your Goebbels comment.

War is hell

WHayes said...

Thank you, sir. Get that dvd asap. You will not regret it.

CtotheB said...

It's actually still playing at the Quad Theatre in NYC.

WHayes said...

Do it do it.

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