category

More on The Hurt Locker

From a review of the Hurt Locker by photojournalist Chris Hondros, who has been to Iraq twelve times (via C&L.)

Oddly, the best part of the movie is its closing minutes, after James leaves Iraq for his family at home. James is in a supermarket with his wife and son and is tasked with getting breakfast cereal; finding the cereal aisle he stares mute as the seemingly infinite choices. It’s a funny, poignant moment, and it seems to me that this could have been the heart of the movie: how does one return to a life of normalcy after a year of insanity in Iraq? That’s the real question that thousands of soldiers and Marines (as well as journalists and governmental staff) have had to confront since the Iraq war began. But it will take another movie to explore this critical idea, The Hurt Locker, for all its explosions and tension, doesn’t really even try.

Robert Young Pelton also explores this in Licensed to Kill. Hired Guns in the War on Terror. Many of those who contract for private military corporations like Xe (formerly Blackwater) have serious US military experience, often coming from elite forces like Rangers and Seals. How does someone like that go back to the States, often to the small towns / impoverished areas they were from, and get a boring job? Instead, companies like Xe will pay them $500 a day and up to work in a war zone. (Or they become real mercenaries, hunting terrorist scalp for bounty money, as shown in the movie too.)

Part of the lure of course, is the buzz. You just can’t get that kind of adrenaline rush in civilian life, maybe unless you become a cop. That’s not a putdown. Some people like adventure.

While I think the movie is flawed in some areas, it does get you to thinking. Not many movies do that.

  • DJ

    “James is in a supermarket with his wife and son and is tasked with getting breakfast cereal; finding the cereal aisle he stares mute as the seemingly infinite choices.”

    I can so relate! I won’t compare my own experience to that of combat vets– I spent a mere few days in combat zones, not even close. I will say that the problem of reintegration isn’t limited to combat vets– even after my first stay of 18 months in Sri Lanka, it took me months to feel like I could relate to the world around me back in Los Angeles. Some of my later trips, though shorter, included time in war zones, and my return was even more difficult.

    We send out far more soldiers these days than we do peacemakers and community builders. But emotional trauma is not limited to that vocation.