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Way OT: Hurt Locker


Steve Force

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As an ex-US Air Force EOD technician (Vietnam-era) I wanted to see what the buzz was about the movie "Hurt Locker."

 

So i got it from the public library and watched it today.

 

Who has seen it?

 

Personally I thought is was more a fantasy then was "AVATAR".

 

Too bad, since EOD (and IED's) in a situation like Iraq should make one hell of a compelling story.

 

 

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

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This is very topical for me, as I just rented it and watched it two days ago. I enjoyed it as a movie, but then, I too have no experience to just how realistic it is. Forceman, please elaborate on what it was you found unrealistic.

 

Unrealistic from the opening scene until the end. This is NOT how an EOD team operates. It insults EOD.

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

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Forceman, please elaborate on what it was you found unrealistic.

+1

 

I think it's a very well made film, though not without some shortcomings. Regardless of its realism--as we all know (or should), realism isn't a requisite for great cinema--I thought the action scenes were riveting, especially the one in the desert with the snipers.

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That is not an elaboration. Please elaborate with some examples, I would really like to hear your take on it, as someone with real life EOD experience.

 

I mean, you know, if you feel like it. If you don't, that's ok too.

 

Well I know this is a movie and therefore for entertainment. Granted.

 

But the whole MOVIE from an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) perspective is 100% WRONG. Never would an EOD Tech put his or anybody else's life at risk like that without extraordinarily good reasons. NEVER would an EOD Tech disarm a bomb when they can BIP it (blow in place.) NEVER would an EOD tech cut electrical fuse leads and then leave them unshunted (you twist the leads together to mitigate Radio frequencies from triggering the fuse.)

 

NEVER would and EOD tech be a cowboy like that sorry-ass actor was. That would be immediate cause for removal. EOD is a TEAM where you trusted your fellow EOD specialist with your life. Rank meant nothing--experience, training and teamwork meant EVERYTHING. We practiced SAFETY above everything--even in hostile or in IED-like situations. I can go on and on and on. Oh, and EOD would NEVER be used for patrol duty for christ sake!

 

And please don't say my EOD experience wasn't the same because I was US Air Force not Army or Marine or even Navy. EOD trains together regardless of the branch of service. My chemical training as at Redstone Arsenal (Alabama) and the EOD School was Indian Head Naval Ordnance station (just south of DC.) IED Training was FBI at Quantico Marine Corps base.

 

Well this was just a movie--it is what it is. :)

 

Now the movie "Blown Away" starring Jeff and Lloyd Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones as Boston Police Bomb Squad was pretty darned accurate, all things considered.

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

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Marine Corps veteran here, but my experience with bombs was limited to the bombing and navigation computers in A-6E aircraft in the mid-80's and again in Persian Gulf Part I.

 

I felt the movie drew a contrast between the first bomb tech, (spoiler alert) who got killed despite his adherence to set protocols; and the replacement who seemed to have a death wish. Perhaps the second guy would not have happened in the real world, but I believe his cowboy aspect was exaggerated for the sake of the plot. The scene where he grabs the detonating wires and pulls a spider web out of the dust and dirt had me coming out of my chair with a hearty "What the F*$% are you THINKING?!!!"

I have to agree that it certainly continued to veer hard right from reality when the EOD squad goes out in the dark to pursue the bad guys - when there was a perfectly good patrol squad available to do it with all the requisite night vision gear and training. The thought that real EOD guys would put all that training at risk in a non-EOD situation, breaking the rules to do so, goes beyond the pale. These are supposedly "smart" people (EOD guys must test among the highest IQ's on the ASVAB).

I felt the film showed some very harsh realities as to what "modern" warfare looks like - technology, both in making, detonating, and finding/diffusing bombs - as well as the harsh depravity of disguising the bombs. It strived to show that there is no level to which terrorists won't stoop.

 

As far as difference in training among the branches of the military: I never got much into the inter-service rivalry thing. Better to save your energy for the real enemy. Semper Fi.

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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Good points about propelling the story line. Again I have no issue with a good storyline; but when it is obviously bogus why bother?

 

I guess truth isn't as interesting as fiction.

 

BTW there have been more EOD techs killed in these conflicts on average then in the complete history of EOD (including British WW2 Bomb Disposal before.) This is 100% due to booby-trapped or remote fired IED's. When I was in IED training Every Single One of us was "killed" by an IED, at least once (a quarter block of TNT exploding 20 feet away gets your attention mightly quick.) IED's scared the shit out of every EOD tech.

 

Here is the EOD Memorial, now at Eglin AFB Florida.

http://www.eodmemorial.org/images/memorial_sideview.jpg

 

http://www.eodmemorial.org/index.html

Steve Force,

Durham, North Carolina

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Good points about propelling the story line. Again I have no issue with a good storyline; but when it is obviously bogus why bother?

 

I guess truth isn't as interesting as fiction.

Think of movies about musicians - they are often inaccurate/unrealistic, either needlessly or cluelessly, about the musical aspects, but generally only musicians know that. I wonder how various other careers that show up in movies or TV a lot, like say homicide detectives, lawyers, or doctors, fare with their real life counterparts.

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Unfortunately, movies also create and perpetuate stereotypes while they "entertain" us. As a Vietnam Veteran (infantryman with 101st Airborne Division 1969-71) I have a certain sensitivity to this, having served in the same infantry battalion portrayed in Band of Brothers. The distortions fostered on VN veterans by the media/entertainment industry have been ridiculous. Compare the portrayal of soldiers in Band of Brothers to almost any VN movie. Granted, the whole world was different during the VN era, but to us boonie rats those societal distinctions just didn't seem revelant. Until we came home, that is.

 

What fascinates me is the incredible number of VN "wannabes" out there now, most of course highly decorated with top secret or lost records. "Stolen Valor" is a good book for anyone interested in such things.

 

Are movies more concerned with factual accuracy or entertainment value? Like everything, it probably has a lot to do with which pays better.

 

 

 

 

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Unfortunately, movies also create and perpetuate stereotypes while they "entertain" us. As a Vietnam Veteran (infantryman with 101st Airborne Division 1969-71) I have a certain sensitivity to this, having served in the same infantry battalion portrayed in Band of Brothers. The distortions fostered on VN veterans by the media/entertainment industry have been ridiculous. Compare the portrayal of soldiers in Band of Brothers to almost any VN movie. Granted, the whole world was different during the VN era, but to us boonie rats those societal distinctions just didn't seem revelant. Until we came home, that is.

 

What fascinates me is the incredible number of VN "wannabes" out there now, most of course highly decorated with top secret or lost records. "Stolen Valor" is a good book for anyone interested in such things.

 

Are movies more concerned with factual accuracy or entertainment value? Like everything, it probably has a lot to do with which pays better.

So you're saying "Band of Brothers" does a good job insofar as being a realistic portrayal? I've heard it is great, but I haven't seen it - wasn't it about WWII? What about "Platoon?" That I'm curious about, as Oliver Stone served in Vietnam, so as writer he should have known what was realistic and what wasn't. Of course, he also directed "The Doors," which I also haven't seen, but there's one a few musicians might have opinions about :-)

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On "Platoon" - I can only speak to my experience, but the first half or so of "Platoon" really captures it - eerily so, actually. Stone's take on the details of arriving in country, joining the unit in the field, and learning how to survive at the lowest common denominator (leeches, ants, snakes, rain, eighty pound ruck, NVA, no sleep, juicers vs heads, etc.)took me right back there. The rest, however, like drug use out in the bush, terrorizing civilians, burning villages, the murdering sergeants, etc., was all pure hype to me.

 

I've seen "Band of Brothers," - really enjoyed it, and everything I've read about it is very positive. While watching I felt proud, yet undeserving, to have served in a unit with such a heritage, even if it was in the "wrong" war.

 

WWII was a whole different time - the country actually went to war. Since then we just send military folks and contractors and impose little or no sacrifice on the rest of the country.

 

I have seen "The Doors," and came of age listening to them. Morrison was surely a wild child psycho, but my guess is "The Doors" contains big doses of hype as well.

 

Each day, like music, is a gift.

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Well, the initial question the OP asked is what all the buzz was about Hurt Locker..

 

I think the buzz comes down to 2 things- The performances by Jeremy Renner & Anthony Mackie, and the excellent use of tension by director Katheryn Bigelow as a plot device. Those to things worked well...very well in fact.

 

Unfortunately, accuracy is usually a distant last when it comes to film making, with exceptions such as some independent films or certain cable TV drama's like The Wire or Band Of Brothers. Usually the larger budget films are concerned with cinematography, action shots, and lead character performances, over things like accuracy and character development.

 

It seemed the point of the movie was the tension itself. The director choose the old hollywood staple #371 to achieve it. ie; when doing a war drama, always throw in "crazy GI" character to serve your plot. In this case, it's SFC William James as the protagonist. In "Platoon" it's SGT Barnes as the foil. I would go so far to say that in "Platoon" the enemy wasn't the North Vietnamese army so much as it was "crazy" Sgt Barnes himself. At least from the perspective of Chris & Sgt Elias.

 

Maybe it was just me, but it felt like Jeremy Renner was channeling a lil bit of Robert Duvall from Apocalypse Now.. Just crazy enough to feel like he was indestructible.

 

In any case, good movie all things considered.

TROLL . . . ish.
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It seems Hurt Locker has nine Academy Award nominations, same as Avatar. I think there's something wrong with that. While I enjoyed Hurt Locker, it's not even in the same league as Avatar. HL is a much smaller film.

 

I heard a so-called film expert discussing this on tv last night, the expert said he thought that twenty years from now, HL would be remembered as some kind of great film, wheres A would not. I think that is some kind of left-wing insanity, or something like that. That kind of thinking must be inspired by anti-commercialism or something. In other words, if something is hugely successful, there must be something wrong with it. That would have been like saying, in 1969, that the Beatles would be forgotten in twenty years.

 

Who knows what will happen in twenty years. But Avatar is really an amazing visual masterpiece, hugely popular (deservedly), made more money than any film in history. Of course it will be remembered. If HL manages to beat A in academy awards, I believe that twenty years from now, that will be viewed as a mistake.

 

 

 

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Here's the thing - Avatar, while visually stunning, is a horrible movie. The script is bad, the acting is bad, the plot is bad - it's just a bad movie. It deserves awards based on it's technical merit and that's it. If it wins all or most of the awards it's up for, particularly best picture and director, then THAT will be viewed as a huge mistake down the road.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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I think you guys are both right..

 

I think both films had it's shortcomings. However both films still managed to deliver. Avatar on the scale of visual excitement, and Hurt Locker on the scale of riveting tension.

 

Avatar was far from flawless, but Cameron's last great film, Titanic was just plain stupid, while also being a very entertaining film overall. The Hurt Locker delved little into charachter developement, but we all just accepted that SFC William James was very talented(and lucky), and crazy.

 

My choice for two films(with shortcomings) that delivered for 2009 were Let The Right One In & District 9.

TROLL . . . ish.
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