The Hurt Locker: A New Kind of Movie About Iraq

Hollywood isn't finished with the Iraq war quite yet.

The entertainment industry has spent the last six or so years spinning yarns from the deeply divisive conflict, with most efforts falling into a predictable pattern. The war was a grave mistake (Fahrenheit 9/11). The battle will rage on indefinitely (No End in Sight). Never waste an opportunity like a war to slime the troops (Redacted).

Now along comes The Hurt Locker, arguably the first Iraq war film not to wear its Code Pink colors on its sleeve. And wouldn't you know it isn't a colossal bust so far, at least in its very limited initial release.

But Hurt, for all its visceral impact, isn't a great war movie as some critics suggest, nor is it as politically neutral as its boosters would have you believe.

The movie stars Jeremy Renner (28 Weeks Later) as Staff Sgt. William James, a man without fear when it comes to defusing insurgent traps.

The opening sequence, set before James enters the picture, details just how dangerous working in the bomb disposal unit can be. Defusers wear a puffy bomb suit for a modicum of protection -- think one of those silly faux sumo wrestler costumes but made from much sturdier stuff. Ultimately, no suit can save a soldier if a bomb goes off prematurely.

James teams up with Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), a by-the-book soldier, and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), the kind of grunt who looks like he belongs behind the counter at Walgreens, not behind enemy lines.

It's hardly an original lot, and their preferred method for bonding -- aggressive wrestling and boozing -- also falls squarely in the been there, seen that category.

James brings a stoic approach to the task at hand, alienating Sanborn with his willingness to risk his life -- even when it's not necessary. Yet James gets rattled when he learns a local boy who sold him some knockoff DVDs only a few days ago may have gone missing.