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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

A Glutton-For-Punishment Sandwich

The Hurt Locker (2008) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Kaboom!Baghdad, 2004. Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) becomes the new team leader of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Bravo Company in their final month of rotation. He's a big swinging dick variously characterized as “reckless” or “wild,” but his savoir faire seems to be more reflective of his prolonged experience: 873 bombs disarmed—not a brag but a fact. Since rotations last but a year, he would have done at least three of them, so he uncharacter­istic­ally prefers this line of work to others. As novelist Joseph Finder puts it, “Bomb-disposal experts are a strange breed. They do their harrowing work in odd corners of the world, traveling to where the work is. … Their work is so stressful that many of them—those who escape unharmed—retire as soon as they can find good work elsewhere” (195–6.) Not James.

mom, dad, babyHe tells us he “had a girlfriend and … she got pregnant, so we got married, and we got divorced ... or … I thought we got divorced. I mean, she's still living in the house and she says we're still together, so … she's just loyal.” Connie James (Evangeline Lilly) comes back for more. That makes them two peas in a pod.

Rounding them out is Sergeant J.T. (“Yo, what's up, my nigger?”) Sanborn (Anthony Mackie.) He's a prime example of what's known as ‘settling.’ Blacks in the U.S. have been given unlimited oppor­tunities if they just apply them­selves but some settle for low positions because it's easier. Sanborn was in Intelligence, and in fact he acquits him­self well as a sniper in a pinch, but he trans­ferred into dangerous EOD as second fiddle to a guy who loves to boss him around. That's what blacks were supposed to want to avoid. Oh, well.

Completing their number is Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty.) Him we can relate to. He complains to the army shrink Colonel John Cambridge (Christian Camargo) that in an army where one can “be all that you can be,” he fears that all he will become is a splotch on the side of the road. We share his fear vicariously as we accompany James defusing the bombs. We also relate to the fears of Sanborn dodging shrapnel: “Another two inches, shrapnel zings by, slices my throat, I bleed out like a pig in the sand. Nobody'll give a shit. I mean my parents – they care – but they don't count, man.” He's wishing us his black life mattered more.

This movie—as movies sometimes do—messes with our minds. Our situation safe in the states is not so different, after all. America was founded by immigrants, immigrants who had a strong moral compass. If an immigrant kid was caught stealing, his dad would get on his case big time. Then there were the slaves. Slave families didn't hold quite the same attitude about stealing from the master. Sure, it was the master's property, but so were they his property. They were just relocating a piece of the master's property from one spot to another, no big deal. Now with their liberty and the penchant of some to ‘settle’, they can encounter fierce opposition from the police protecting the dominant group's property.

Most notorious is the traffic stop for DWB (driving while black.) In THL a hajji taxi driver tooling down a deserted street is told by the soldiers blockading it to back up. When he doesn't comply fast enough, he is dragged from his car and subdued on the ground with a leg across his neck, briefly until they bundle him away.

This is contrasted with horsing around wrestling in the barracks. Here, “We need some rules. No face shots.” James does manage to subdue Sanborn on the floor, kneeling on his shoulder area but not on his neck. That doesn't stop Sanborn from pulling a switch­blade on him. The domineering force needed by a cop in some street situations would call for more than a shoulder pin.

The ultimate place where this messes with our minds is Sanborn's refusal to give his baby-desiring girl­friend his sperm. The movie almost seems to suggest the way to stop the inevitable con­fron­tations with their possible collateral damage is to disband the Negro race. Ha, ha.


Gambler's Royal
FlushOne of Kenny Rogers's songs concerned a chance meeting with “The Gambler” on a train bound to nowhere. He offered the passenger the advice that “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.” In this movie Bravo Company should have tossed out Col. Cambridge who wanted to ride along on a call. The desk jockey didn't have the right skill set to even save him­self. The British force broken down on the side of the road should have kept their lug wrench with which to change a tire rather than throw it away at an enemy they were even allowed to shoot. It left them exposed and vulnerable.

The refrain of the song goes:
You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repartee is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” In our movie Sgt. James dons a bomb suit and goes forth to disarm them one and all. Nothing spooks him.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. When an upset Sanborn socks James his superior, the latter officer just took it in stride and avoided getting fragged later on by the guy who had serious misgivings about his leadership.

We have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” When Sgt. James plays CIA investigator and ends up in the wrong house altogether, he wisely just walks away.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” When James is trying to disarm a time bomb and it's down to the final seconds with much work on it remaining, he wisely boogies on out of there in a hurry.

The gambler gave the advice:
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

James didn't dwell on all the bombs he'd disarmed. Not while he was on assignment. After his tour was over there would be time enough to go through it.

Production Values

” (2009) was directed by Kathryn Bigelow. It was written by Mark Boal. It stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty. None of the parts was all that complex or deep, and they were handled easily. We saw cameos of Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, and David Morse. The crew members were American, Jordanian, Lebanese, English, Irish, German, Moroccan, Danish, Tunisian, Canadian, South African, Icelandic, Iraqi, Libyan, Circassian, Palestinian, Armenian, Swedish, Australian, and New Zealanders.

MPAA rated it R for war violence and language. Instead of opening credits we hear a deep bass throbbing that turns into a thumping and then I suppose our heart beats take over for a disarming scene. I don't suppose this would make a good enlistment picture. It was filmed in British Columbia, Canada. It's 131 minutes long.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I think it was a cleverly written film and the characters in it were well defined. The enemy was kind of nebulous, how­ever. Don't look to this picture to help make sense of the war; that wasn't what it was about. Gotta love those troops, though. Rah, rah.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Finder, Joseph. The Zero Hour. Copyright © 1996 by Joseph Finder. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. Print.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. WEB.