So, I re-watched the first three quarters of this film last night. I did this for two reasons.
First: It’s up for an Oscar and people are both bitching about it and howling its praises to the moon. I wanted to see how it bore a second watching and if the good things I remembered were actually that good and so forth. I didn’t finish it. Admittedly it was getting a little late, 11:30 or so but I was not, at all, sucked into the conflict. I knew how it ended and that was enough, I didn’t need to see it again. It wasn’t compelling a second time. Any conclusions I draw from this must, of course, be informed by how often I watch films more than once. It happens. I’ve seen quite a few films more than once and enjoyed them immensely: Soldier, Equilibrium, The Last Samurai, Gladiator, The Kingdom, the list goes on. Wasn’t happening with The Hurt Locker.
I suppose my perspective is a little different from most folks though by no means unique. I’ve been in combat, in the Middle East. They got quite a few things right in the film. But when they got things wrong, they really got them wrong and I didn’t care to see the ending again.
Which brings me to my Second reason for watching it twice. There’s a scene where an insurgent, who is undoubtedly the guy who shot and tried to blow up the heroes, is lying bloody on the ground under the care of a US Army medic. The medic tells his Colonel that the insurgent has a survivable wound if he can be picked up in 15 minutes. The Colonel tells the medic in his crazy voice, “He didn’t make it.” The Colonel then repeats the phrase, with a significant nod, to another soldier, not the medic, standing nearby. Then he walks away and the camera follows him.
My friends have cast some doubt on whether or not a gunshot rings out as the Colonel walks away. I watched the film a second time to find out for sure. It most definitely does.
The film makers tried very very hard to give the impression that an American soldier, under orders from his Colonel shot and killed -murdered- an unarmed and wounded enemy combatant. And they did it casually, in front of quite a few other soldiers, a crowd even, not one of whom raised an objection. To that I say, screw you mister film-maker. That is complete crap and it betrays your underlying motives for making the film and your opinions of the American fighting man, both of which are wrong and nasty if not downright evil.
Such acts have happened, I’ll not deny it. They don’t happen like that. They don’t happen easily. They don’t happen casually. They don’t happen without objection, especially in front of a medic or a crowd of soldiers. They don’t happen without charges of murder being brought and prosecuted.
None of which, of course, will or should have the slightest bearing on whether the film wins a Best Picture Oscar. An Oscar isn’t about political opinion or truth in film-making. I don’t think it merits the award as a work of art, but that’s just me. Now, Jeremy Renner, he deserves an Oscar. I thought his performance was brilliant as were those of the rest of the cast, including the crazy Colonel.
It being hailed as the best Iraq war film ever made? Well, last I checked the field wasn’t very deep yet. I suspect holding that opinion may have more to do with The Hurt Locker bearing out, subtly and well, the opinions about war and soldiers the mainstream media has been inculcating into the population for the last 60 years.