Dealing with the 'Hurt'



It’s unfortunate that “Hurt Locker” nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture.

Not because the film, from a cinematic perspective, was unworthy. Indeed, its cast and crew certainly exceeded expectations in their respective professions. And Scoop Deck is thrilled that Kathryn Bigelow broke the barrier and nabbed the first top prize for a female director (beating her ex-husband, James Cameron in the process).

What is disconcerting is that the movie is so unrealistic. Not simply unrealistic in the fact that the troops are wearing the wrong cammies. While Jeremy Renner provides a wonderful portrayal of the undisciplined maverick SSG William James, the character is tough to stomach. The idea of leaving the confines on a personal  mission, endangering troops by having them split up to cover more ground, and taking off protective gear while disarming a bomb are laughable painful.

When Rambo fired a LAW out of a helicopter window without killing everyone with the 60-foot backblast — that was laughable. But the way the aforementioned actions are portrayed in this movie makes them believeable. And that is scary.

No doubt the way these strong characters make the story believeable is a key reason why the movie won the Oscar. Unfortunately, the Oscar win will likely give the film some de-facto credibility within a society that seems willing to believe everything it sees. This, in turn, will lead people to believe the film to be an authentic and accurate portrayal not only of military operations, but the military mindset.

It is neither.

As the old saying goes, it’s just a movie. Scoop Deck hopes people will keep it in that category.


About Author

A Navy brat who spent eight years in the Marines (two years aboard the carrier Independence). Worked in journalism in Eastern North Carolina through the latter part of the 90s, then became editor of Air Force Times in 2000. Stayed there five years, then took a break to finish some school. Now back in the game with Navy Times.

1 Comment

  1. Mercy Vetsel on

    Oh, come on. I can understand that Hollywood has dumped on the military for a long time, but this seems more like a reflexive action rather than a reasonable complaint.

    The genius of the movie is that it captures the uncertainty and tension of these people who actually go out and defuse bomb set by very bad guys. Unlike a lot of movies, the soldiers are portrayed as competent professionals making huge sacrifices to fight an enemy that uses candy to attract children to bombs and stuffs explosives into dead bodies.

    Most notable is what the movie lacks. There is no moral equivocation, no general trashing of the troops, no overt political statements and no ignoring the personal sacrifices and dedication of the men and women fighting the war and getting a messy job done.

    I can’t imagine what more you could ask for. Was the sniping at 800 yards by munitions experts realistic? No. Did they exaggerate the rogue aspects of Jeremy Renner? Yes.

    But how does this rank with other war movies? Most famous war movies have scenes that even a civilian can spot as an exaggeration. I’d be hard pressed to name even a handful of more accurate war movies.

    Unless we decide to hold out for an Iraq version of Top Gun, I really don’t see what more we could ask for.


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