Michael Totten

The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow’s film “The Hurt Locker”:http://thehurtlocker-movie.com/ — about an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team in Iraq — has been in theaters for months, and it’s a bit late for me to review it.
I’d still like to say a few things about it, however.
Finally — a movie that takes place in post-Saddam Iraq that is devoid of politics. I have no interest whatsoever is watching either a left-wing or a right-wing movie about the war in Iraq. When I’m in Iraq, American domestic politics, and all the baggage that comes with it, is the last thing I even think about let alone care about. The same seems to be true for most people over there. Hollywood’s politics simply do not exist in Iraq, and it’s about time the industry put out a movie by people who understand that.
If you haven’t yet seen it — go see it. Some details are off, but for the most part they’re the kinds of details only someone who has actually spent time over there or in the military will actually care about.
The crew made up for those flaws by doing a fantastic job transforming parts of Amman, Jordan, into places that, topography aside, look an awful lot like Iraq. That’s a hell of feat all by itself. Last time I left Baghdad, I traveled to Lebanon through Jordan and was staggered by how much nicer Amman is than Baghdad. (Beirut, meanwhile, is vastly superior to Amman.)
The characters aren’t stereotypes. They are well-rounded and interesting, and they talk like American soldiers in Iraq actually talk. (The accents of some of the Iraqi characters are off, but I can let that pass.)
What struck me most about this movie — and why I think you should see it — is that it perfectly captures the horrifying moral and ethical black hole of the Iraqi insurgency and the ruin it has wrought on that country. Words like “dark,” “violent,” and “dysfunctional” don’t even begin to describe what an awful place Iraq recently was and, in some ways, still is.
The moment that resonates with me most comes near the end. After a particularly nasty scene, a sergeant riding back to the base in a Humvee breaks down in tears and says “I hate this place.” After watching the wrenching two hours that precede it, you’ll understand.
Watch the trailer: