I am going to depart from my area of expertise to
discuss a film. The Hurt Locker has been hailed by conservatives and
liberals and everyone in between as the best movie about the war in Iraq to
date. I just saw it. It literally made me sick. I think that it is one of the
worst movies I have ever seen.
In truth, I don’t see many movies. I don’t recall seeing any
movies about Iraq. I watched this one because I happened to be visiting relatives
who happened to have rented it. If this is what passes as a good movie about
Iraq, then I am relieved that I haven’t seen any other Hollywood movies about
Iraq. Aside from that, the plaudits it has received tell me that people have
some horribly low standards.
The Hurt Locker is a film about a bomb disposal unit
deployed to Iraq at the height of the insurgency in 2004. Its hero is Staff
Sgt. Will James, (played expertly by Jeremy Renner) who leads a bomb disposal
squad. In scene after scene he dismantles IEDs. And that’s the problem. There
is no plot. We don’t know anything about these soldiers. We don’t know why they
joined the US Army. We don’t know how they feel about Iraq. We don’t know what
they think of Iraqis who are nothing more than background noise in the movie, except for an apropos of nothing Iraqi boy who simply reenacted the role of a South Korean boy from MASH.
the movie starts we are told they are going home in a few weeks and that builds suspense about the possibility of them getting killed. Each new scene of defusing bombs is yet one day closer to home. But we don’t care about the soldiers who we are never given the opportunity to know — lest we relate to them. All we are given are GI Joes who defuse bombs. Supposedly by watching them, we are
supposed to achieve some deeper understanding of the war. But really all we see is context-free violence which teaches us nothing about war. Supposedly James is a hero. But we don’t have any idea what he’s fighting for. So why should we care about him? Indeed, how can we care about him? The only thing we can feel for him is fear.
My sense is at The Hurt Locker was made with two target audiences in mind:
teenage boys and radical leftists. Teenage boys are everyone’s target audience
because they pay money to watch movies in theaters and then buy the DVDs and
any merchandise related to films. Teenage boys love violence – the more gratuitous,
the better. And The Hurt Locker has lots and lots of violence. In
fact all it is is violence interrupted periodically by gratuitous, generic cute kid scenes.
As for radical leftists, The Hurt Locker works for
them because its post modern, context-free rendering of the war is a picture
perfect far left portrayal of war. No, the Americans aren’t terrible, they are nothings. And anyway, their nature is irrelevant. War is futile. There is no purpose to war except staying
alive. There is no greater good. Therefore, war is wrong because there is nothing worth fighting for What could be a better war message than that for the far left?
I’m no film critic. But I know soldiers and I know war. And
soldiers aren’t two-dimensional and war isn’t about nothing. And the war in Iraq is neither futile nor meaningless.
The Hurt Locker was a two-dimensional film about a
meaningless war and nothing soldiers. If it weren’t up against the
anti-American, anti-Israeli 3-D allegory Avatar, I would say it was a sure bet to win
the best picture.