Movie Review: The Hurt Locker

I really wanted to like this movie. Unfortunately, instead of rising above the easy cliches that dominate Hollywood movies about the current wars, it lures you in with moments of brilliance and than sucker punches you when you least expect it. Now, I have to say it was impossible for me to watch this without my military/Chaplain glasses on and there were a number of things that really bothered me.

1. The bird colonel who plays little role other than to advance a false stereotype of the cruel and uncaring officer. His screen time seems to exist only to further that stereotype.

2. The Army psychologist who is a fobbit, an idiot, and who wants to see a little action. Here we have the stupid and out of touch officer stereotype pushed on us.

3. What was with the EOD team always rolling out in their Humvee by themselves? I would think that commanders would start losing their jobs if they sent their EOD teams outside the wire in a lone Humvee with no convoy to speak of.

4. The movie is at its weakest when it has the members of the EOD team going rambo and sauntering off into Iraqi nights by themselves. That is simply ludicrous.

5. The movie is at its strongest during the scenes when the EOD team is disarming bombs. These are expertly directed and incredibly tense and will literally have you on the edge of your seat. The most effective scenes were the first one, where the original team leader was killed, and the last one when the team tried to save an Iraqi who had been forced to wear a suicide vest.

6. Where was the Chaplain? I know it’s a Hollywood movie but I have to ask.

Basically, if the movie had kept to being more about EOD and less about guys going nuts and running off into the night seeking vengeance, the movie would have been a lot better. As it stands it is a well made action movie that unfortunately has too many tired and false cliches about the military to make it worth adding to my collection permanently.

Now, some of you might be wondering if I thought it was better than its main Oscar competitor, Avatar. In a word, yes. I thought the movie was a far superior film in terms of originality and emotional impact. While both movies relied on cliches, Avatar bashes you over the head with them for nearly three hours. Hurt Locker at least manages to confine them to a handful of scenes. My hope is that if The Hurt Locker does win some awards it will inspire more people to make films that will give the troops better treatment on screen and not resort to so many overused stereotypes.

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