Americans Should See “The Hurt Locker” 

Your reviewer's simplistic and biased review of “The Hurt Locker” (“Blowups,” Arts & Culture, Aug. 5) disserves the motion picture and the community. This independently produced film should be seen by every adult citizen. The conservative lip service given to our “support of the troops” would benefit from an exposure to a portrayal of the intensity and often chaos of combat and of what we are asking of our men and women.

This film is a gripping, intense movie of war and not, as your reviewer seemed to suggest, a political piece. The crucible just happens to be Iraq in 2004, but in reality it could be set in a trench in France or a submarine in the Pacific. The plot is not burdened with the extraneous. This is not to say, as your reviewer put it, that the movie is “missing a story.” Your reviewer may have become accustomed to being spoon-fed a story line, as in the vast majority of Hollywood's screened comic books.

“The Hurt Locker,” with powerful photography that seems to place you at the scene, follows a bomb disposal team of three men jointly confronting fear and death in their assigned mission. Each man is uniquely affected by the external threats as well as the adjustments necessitated when the internal dynamic of the team changes.

Like your reviewer, I have no personal experience in Iraq to vouch for the accuracy of the tactics or circumstances of the urban warfare in Iraq in 2004 as portrayed. One extended scene in a desert setting seemed to represent, without loss of credulity, a composite of different combat roles. However, the events, the actions of the characters and the impact on the team members were to me, a combat veteran, appropriate and disturbingly honest. The wired, buried artillery rounds looked just as deadly and challenging as they did along routes in Vietnam.

Your reviewer displaces obvious truth with biased misconceptions. These are not depictions of “stereotypical Americans … and Iraqis.” The American soldiers are shown in the intensity of war doing tasks essential in war. Accomplishment of dangerous tasks does not make them gung-ho, and they are assuredly not presented in that manner. Iraqi security forces are shown working with the team to identify possible IED's and to secure an area for the team to defuse the threat. Iraqi civilian locals are shown observing the team while set back on the perimeter of the action, just as are American soldiers waiting for the team to do its work. Your reviewer says the film makes a stereotypical portrayal of Iraqis as “cowardly, skulking roadside bombers.” The reality, however, that one of the observing Iraqi civilians may electronically set off the IED is a fact of life in this war. 

This is not one of those surreal “Full Metal Jacket” fiction-type pieces. This movie surfaces feelings in its viewers, the feelings that while in combat you never allow to surface. This is a very rare presentation of the intensity of war and its effects both during and following deadly combat. Seeing this movie will not make you a combat veteran, but it will give you a greater understanding of why you display that magnetic ribbon “I support the troops” on your SUV.
Roger W. Frydrychowski



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