Studying War Some More

'The Hurt Locker' is a brilliant movie that shows why we need to get over our addiction with starting and fighting wars.

The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is not a great war film. It doesn’t glorify combat or condemn battle. It does not try to explain why conflict exists. It does not salute the dead or mourn their deaths.

It’s an explosive and honest rendering of what happens in war zones. The film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, focuses on the experiences of a group of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. In the prologue, New York Times reporter Chris Hedges says, “… war is a drug.”

Then we meet the addicts—two casual users and a junkie. But sitting there, screening it in the dark with three friends and a room full of strangers, I suddenly realized that many of us are enablers, if not pushers.

When the biggest box-office hit of the summer is a fictional Armageddon between out-sized machines and the human race (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, over $200 million in box-office receipts in the first week), and when some game-making mental midgets decide it’s OK to design a video game around the very real, very bloody 2004 battle of Fallujah (Six Days in Fallujah, which thankfully has been shelved), I think we have reached a societal acceptance of war that condones and promotes it.

Bigelow’s film points no fingers and presents no grand metaphor. Nothing about winners and losers, victory or defeat, missions accomplished or left unfinished. Every day the soldiers of Delta Company go out and try to detect, defuse or detonate bombs. Besieged Iraqi citizens, themselves victims of the same bombs, dispassionately observe the efforts.