March 3, 2010, - 4:04 pm

About “The Hurt Locker”: Yes, It’s a True Story; No, It’s Not “Left-Wing”

By Debbie Schlussel

As those who’ve been readers since last summer know, I really liked the Academy Award-nominated film, “The Hurt Locker.”  I put in in my top five films for 2009, and I voted for it in several categories as a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society.  You can read my full review here.


In summary, the movie is fantastic in that it shows us not only how tough it is to serve our country, but the risks our soldiers take every single day so that we don’t have to–how they constantly put their lives on the line (and their families, too).  And it shows how good our soldiers are to the Iraqis and their kids, who really don’t give a damn in return.  That’s important, as is the fact that our presence in these places–where we refuse to fight a tough war, and, instead, are making nice with a hostile enemy and constantly defusing bombs–is futile.  Unless we are willing to kill people and destroy things, we lost in the first place (and in the case of Iraq, we handed it over to Iranian-backed leaders who will ultimately make it a satellite state of the Ayatollahs, as it basically is now). Some liberals, including director Katharine Bigelow, and some conservatives say it’s an anti-war movie. But that’s in the eye of the beholder. In my view, the movie is extremely patriotic.

But now that the movie is up for an award on Sunday’s Oscar telecast (where I think it may win Best Picture or will, at least, win Best Director), it’s come under fire from some mainstream media reporters who found a few soldiers willing to nitpick the film to death over tiny minutiae that are completely irrelevant (like uniforms that aren’t accurate). And I’m getting hate-mail from ignoramuses who think they are conservative, telling me I’m somehow a liberal Democrat because I liked the movie.  These are people who probably didn’t even see it, people who don’t read this site, or they’d have a clue.  Sadly, they don’t.  They’re citing a ridiculous article in the liberal Washington Post–no fan of the America’s Armed Forces–to call me out for liking the movie.  HUH?!  Next, they’ll be citing the Soros Nazi-funded Media Matters and It’s as ridiculous as the Sarah Palin litmus test posed by far too many airhead faux-conservatives who mindlessly put personalities above all principles.

Accuracy is important, but so is Hollywood making films that don’t villainize our fighting men overseas and–by that token–villainize America.  And, until The Hurt Locker, there really isn’t anything coming out of Lalaland but tripe that constantly paints our soldiers as thugs, murderers, rapists, male sluts, mentally unstable or flat-out insane, disloyal, etc.  The only other pro-American soldier movie I’ve seen recently–the only other film that portrays American soldiers in such a positive light–is “Dear John” (read my review), and that’s really a heavy-handed (but likeable) love story, which isn’t as much about being an American soldier as “The Hurt Locker” is.

And here’s a tip to the doubters:  the story in the movie is not only true, but yesterday, trial lawyer Geoffrey Fieger filed suit against “The Hurt Locker’s” makers, on behalf of Master Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver, who was the subject of a Playboy article written by Mark Boal, and on which Boal apparently based the movie’s screenplay (which he also wrote).  Given this, it’s hilarious to read the Washington Post’s and other mainstream media sources’ claims that “The Hurt Locker” doesn’t bear any resemblance to the experiences of real American soldiers, real bomb technicians in uniform.  Master Sgt. Sarver seems to think otherwise.  And I guess the Washington Post and the lumpenconservatariat hate-mailers are saying he didn’t exist.

Sarver says he is Will James, the lead character.  Not only was he the subject of screenplay author Boal’s Playboy piece, but his life sounds just like the movie.  It sounds like he was robbed, and I hope he gets his piece of the action, which he deserves after serving his country with honor for 18 years and continuing to do so.

And just like he is a great soldier, “The Hurt Locker” is a great movie.  Try seeing it first, before you tell me otherwise.

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28 Responses

The movie had a few inaccuracies as noted by some vets. All in all I don’t think you could necessarily call it an anti war flick. The main character doesn’t find civilian life a good fit and that’s not exactly hard to believe for a lot of cowboy types.

Joe on March 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Hello Debbie, I will admit that I have not seen this film because lately most of the movies from Hollywood, that has the Iraq War as a subject, as insulting to be mild, traitoruos at worst.

I am willing to see it but I can understand the knee jerk reaction because anything from Hollywood as portraying our fighting men in a positive light as an anthema.

I will see it and I trust most of your movie reviews, as being honest and fair.

Mario on March 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm

P.S. I agree that if we try to win the “hearts and minds” of the people and leave the eradication and killing of the enemy out of the equation, only failure can be the result. The idea of trying to fight a war, by being REACTIVE (after the fact) instead of being PROACTIVE (going after the enemy before they have time to regroup and conduct terrorist acts). Unfotunately when the West tries to win war in the manner of some intellectual debate, and your enemy wants to shed the most blood of your blood, it is not difficult who will win.

Mario on March 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm


JOHN B AUGUST on March 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I’ll have to go and see it since you do like it, even though you missed the boat & were wrong about Avatar…
You missed the meta-message totally. You usually don’t miss much, but you swung and missed on the spiritual, legal & commercial messages, and the Metaphorical scriptural references & lessons (beneath the surface & behind the scene) in AVATAR…

Who cares? on March 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I literally swoon at the thought of meta-messages especially when they deal with the “spiritual, legal and Metaphorical scriptural references and lessons”…….Wow, that is intense! I’m breathless…….

Vinnie DaBlade on March 3, 2010 at 5:51 pm

At least it might be a last gasp for the Washington Post. They’ve eliminated their book section and drastically cut down on book reviews — maybe movies are next on the elimination list.

Little Al on March 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Good article. Your reference to people on the right calling you a liberal democrat is classic, I bet they say that about you when you criticize fox news or sarah palin. Your probably right about the movie I haven’t seen it. I have found the people I get along with the best are ron paul supporters. I totally disagree with them on foreign policy and they are cult like but on most issues we see eye to eye. I stopped calling myself a conservative after I heard sean vannity over and over saying hes a regan conservative. They make me sick. Good work.

tyler on March 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Debbie, I will see this. Thanks.

skzion on March 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm

The movie was pretty good, but familiar..because I lived it. On the other side of it, rather. I was holding our son when he called in the middle of the night and hung up, unable to even begin to put the horrors he’d experienced into words. All that while followed around by an embed who would make more money watching than the guy *actually* wearing the Bomb Suit would make in a lifetime.

Jeff wasn’t trying to be famous-he was just doing his job. How would you feel if some journalist followed you around your job for a few weeks, then ‘happened’ to write a screenplay–using your life–to make himself very, very, wealthy, without having the courtesy to ask permission…or the courage to give credit where it was due?

boomgrl72 on March 3, 2010 at 8:45 pm

My sisters and I rented the DVD. They crapped out about halfway through, but I kept watching and concluded that many viewers who might be expecting the usual Hollywood big-bang effects will be underwhelmed. Too bad for them. This is a moving and memorable slice of drama that fully deserves whatever praise it can garner.

Graty Slapchop on March 3, 2010 at 9:28 pm

hmm interesting post from boomgrl172…

Fact is Hurt Locker is excellent, one of the best movies to come out of Hollywood the last decade. There are plenty of conservatives who are total airheads, just like the libtards. Debbie in fact is way to the right of me (I see myself as centrist, even apolitical and that’s why I loved Hurt Locker so much, it isn’t tendentious and there is no attempt at any kind of political point scoring) so I have to laugh when dumb conservatives call Debbie a flaming liberal. These are the kind of people who would only be happy with a movie about Iraq that pretended no American soldiers ever die, that they are super-human, who don’t suffer from terrible stress given what they do, and where all Iraqis are potrayed as cardboard cutout villains. The kind of people who actually do miss George Bush Jr and think Palin is competent for high office.

Larry70 on March 4, 2010 at 3:46 am

Hey Debbie I watched the movie solely because of your review and I loved it. I am ex-navy intel (7 years). To the boneheads who claim inaccurate uniforms, it is illegal to have exact military uniforms in a movie or TV show. They can be charged with impersonating a US soldier, just like you can be charged with impersonating a Cop if you show a badge or wear a police uniform. The movies and TV are required to have a minimum number of uniform inaccurasies by law. I felt the movie accurately portrayed many of the interesting personalities that make up the men and women who serve. Remember all the people who serve are the same as everyone else. The only difference between civillian and a service member is the service member has volunteered to give his life (if need be) so you can live yours however you want. There may be more differences, but that is a big one.

Mark on March 4, 2010 at 5:18 am

I normally do not waste a single hard earned dime on anything that comes from Hollywood. I do not like being part of the problem but after reading the reviews and reading of this lawsuit I believe I will go see it if for no other reason than to raise it’s gross intake so the Soldier can sue for more.

martin fee on March 4, 2010 at 6:34 am

Having seen the movie, I was surprised at the complaints from
military guys. I don’t see the big deal about the uniforms being “inaccurate.” Yes, the guy was a cowboy, over the top
reckless, like that never happens?

It wasn’t the greatest movie I’ve seen, but probably the best
Iraq war movie out there. I have to admit I haven’t seen the others, only trailers, and have read your reviews on them to save me money.

Daniel K on March 4, 2010 at 8:43 am

Rented “The Hurt Locker” and thought it was terrific. Not sure its better then Avatar, but does it really matter anyway. I would like to point out that although its not a Anti-war or Anti America movie the hidden message played out in the closing scenes of the movie clearly are meant to show the psychosis of the main character not being able to cope with normal life. Many friends of mine (Civilians) saw the final scene as the main character walked toward the bomb with a smile on his face as a “Kickass” moment. My Vietnam veteran father said that same scene made him feel sadness……….

jedi3129 on March 4, 2010 at 10:05 am

Debbie, I agree with you. I believe that Bigelow created an un-intentional patriotic war movie. I am sure that she is shocked and dismayed at how well it has been received by most people as a mostly POSITIVE pro-U.S. military film. It is clear that the military folks are the good guys and the jihadis the bad guys. That clear distinction is why all the other anti-Iraq war films have been somewhat excremental.

Marc on March 4, 2010 at 11:08 am

I read that one of those so-called soldiers was nitpicking the movie because no one was dipping some chew. I call them so-called soldiers because I don’t know if they are really serving. I would never say this about a soldier who has or is serving. Anyway, I don’t see from this kind of minor flaw that people can discount the movie’s accuracy.

And about the main character’s personality in this movie being perhaps too over the top, you probably have not served. Most of us believed we were almost bullet proof when we were serving. You need to have a completely different attitude from the normal civilian, and most civilians will never truly comprehend what this is. The soldiers portrayed in this movie are the kind of people that we need serving, not a bunch of girly-men.

Jarhead on March 4, 2010 at 11:20 am

For the vets and others saying that the main character is too “over the top,” IT’S A MOVIE! Yes there were some “Hollywood” scenes that were far-fetched. Movies=entertainment, that’s why they were in there.

WilliamMunny on March 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Every day I think of these brave young American men & women in harms way. Most of us are afraid to walk alone at night in our very own neighborhoods. I can never imagine what it might be like to be anywhere like Iraq or Afghanistan. No family, no familiarity whatsoever, pure threat every moment, no way out.
I loved this movie, although it was so painful to watch.
Schlussel is right: some people are stupid idiots with no ability to critically think… Please Almighty, watch over our brave men & women protecting our delicate freedoms.

esther on March 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Debbie, your assessment of the movie was bang on. My friend loaned me his copy and I reread your review, just before I watched it. That added to the enjoyment because I was pretty sure the movie wasn’t going to let me down.

And it didn’t.

I will be purchasing it for sure.

The end scene, when he explains in a reflective way, his dedication to his duty, to his young son who is just a toddler, caps the movie off fantastically.

Never Was An Arrow II on March 4, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Well … hmmm. The left has this habit of portraying white males that aren’t effete self-hating heterosexual pro-abortion women’s studies professors as being A) incapable of higher intellectual or moral function and B) potentially dangerous. It is feminism 101, which depicts masculinity and the men (and women) who love it as the root of all evil. All “good men” reject their masculinity and any benefits derived (male privilege) and all “bad men” are either inwardly or outwardly destructive. The outwardly destructive masculine men are objects of hatred and scorn, the inwardly destructive ones are objects of pity. It is classic feminist deconstruction of males, and practically every Hollywood movie does it. Even the “good guys” in the modern movies are either ignoramuses, or they are these dark, brooding conflicted anti-hero type with questionable motivations.

Now the primary remaining masculine images in this society are husbands/fathers, soldiers and policemen. Which, of course, means that those are the primary avenue of attack in virtually every movie. So, even a movie that does manage to get some basic things about the war in Iraq right (i.e. not demonizing our troops and glorifying the enemy) still has to center its story around a maladjusted sort more interested in thrill seeking than prudently, competently doing his job, because focusing the movie around a more stable and honorable character instead of a “cowboy” would have been “pro-masculine.”

Look, remember the “Lethal Weapon” series, and ignore the fact that it stars the very problematic Danny Glover and Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson’s character at the time was striking, because depictions of unhinged, brooding, suicidal anti-hero types as the GOOD GUY, the COP, were rare. And Gibson’s police officer depiction was counterbalanced by Danny Glover as the mentally stable suburban conscientious father and husband who had to keep his off the wall colleague in line.

These days, the Mel Gibson character in Lethal Weapon … that’s as good as it is going to get as far as how a police officer, soldier, etc. is ever going to be portrayed. For the many male soldiers and cops out there who are far closer to the Danny Glover character (solid, stable, decent husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, professionals), for whatever positive attributes it might have had, “The Hurt Locker” was just another in a long line of movies and TV shows that is determined to marginalize or ignore their existence and contributions because it runs counter to the feminist agenda to do so.

Gerald on March 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm

“say it’s an anti-war movie. But that’s in the eye of the beholder. In my view, the movie is extremely patriotic.”

Wow, so you must be patriotic to support the war? Iraq didn’t invade us, attack us or harm us in anyway, so a war against them isn’t patriotic in any sense, it just caused us to make more enemies, which is unpatriotic.

Support the Troops DOESN’T EQUAL Support the War. I love the troops, my brother is one, but I don’t support a pointless war. Now Afghanistan is a different matter.

And I love Debbie’s comment that making nice doesn’t do anything.

Maybe if we treated the Germans better after WW1 we wouldn’t have had the German masses follow Hitler, just saying.

Mike on March 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm

“Support the Troops DOESN’T EQUAL Support the War. I love the troops, my brother is one, but I don’t support a pointless war. Now Afghanistan is a different matter.”

Why? Afghanistan didn’t attack us either schmuck.

“Maybe if we treated the Germans better after WW1 we wouldn’t have had the German masses follow Hitler, just saying.”

You’re a f-cking ignoramus. The Germans were made to pay reparations for causing the war. Was it too harsh? That’s debatable, but Germany was on their way to socialism regardless of the war and its outcome. Read up on history, because you are clueless.

FrenchKiss on March 4, 2010 at 9:01 pm

The Hurt Locker did not bore me for a second. Although I don’t think it was the best movie of the year, it was far better than the other films nominated for best picture, and I hope it wins. I hope Bigelow wins for director, too.

I saw nothing in the movie “politically correct.” The idea in the film is to present soldiers as simply of different types, driven in different ways. There was no judgment in the film. The main character was not glamorized or idealized; he was not demonized, either. I am glad, though, that he (the main character) is on our side–it takes all kinds and he is a net plus.

Burke on March 5, 2010 at 9:34 am

There’s no political commentary here. It’s just a movie about EOD (bomb squad) soldiers in Iraq, and a not a particularly well-acted movie, at that. It’s a Canadian production filmed in Jordan and it’s accurate enough, but kind of bland unless you’re into gung-ho war-angst movies. Think of it as “Navy SEALS” without the stars and based on a true story of, well, truly what EOD guys do in Iraq. 6 out of 10 stars.

DS_ROCKS! on March 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm

nobody questions debbies conservative credentials! awesome article lady keep it up<3

matt on March 6, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Tried to find a theatre with “Hurt Locker” after reading your review but unfortunately it wasn’t on near me. Bought the Blu Ray sight unseen and love the movie.

There are a couple of things that don’t ring true:

A senior field commander throwing away an intelligence asset (who didn’t even manage to injure one of his men, much less kill any)? An EOD team wandering around in the middle of the desert?

Great movie regardless. Thanks for the review Debbie, would have assumed this was another attach on America’s military and skipped it otherwise.

mark on March 7, 2010 at 11:36 am

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