Kristian L. (Katomine) from PRESCOTT, AZ Reviewed on 9/12/2013...
This is a great film. I am not one for sitting through war movies but this one was great! Yes it is not entirely historically accurate. But they stayed truer to form then hollywood usually does. Such a great film.
An Iraq War Veteran's Perspective
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Had I not served in Iraq in 2004, perhaps I could have maintained a suspension of disbelief and enjoyed the film. However, it is extremely irritating to have the producers of this film and high-level movie critics gush about an "accurate depiction of war" when it is about as close as 2001: A Space Odyssey is to an accurate depiction of NASA. The writer claimed he spent "some time" embedded with an EOD unit, but I can't imagine his time amounted to too much more than a week.
Let's start with some glaring discrepencies. In the film, all soldiers seen are wearing uniforms known as ACUs, which feature the digital camouflage pattern. In 2004, those uniforms had not yet been fully developed or issued. Soldiers wore the DCUs, which feature tan and brown woodland-style camouflage patterns. ACUs were being field-tested with select units, but the prototypes still retained the traditional camo. At that time, only the Marines were wearing uniforms with digital patterns, though their uniforms feature different color patterns and different cuts. Additionally, every soldier wears an American flag patch on the right shoulder. These were conspicuously absent throughout.
The presentation of humvees and other military vehicles add a further level of unreality. Military vehicles typically have unit and vehicle identifations stenciled on bumpers, doors, or hoods. The names of principle occupants are usually stenciled on each side of the windshield. The dashboard and area between the front seats is packed full of radio equipment. There are generally MREs and misc. mission oriented debris lying around the interior. Not much of this was evident. What was evident was the utterly and completely absurd medivac scene that featured HUEY helicopters. Yes, those same Hueys that saw a great deal of service during the Vietnam War, but have long been replaced by the ubiquitous Blackhawk.
The ridiculous misrepresentation, misuse, and absence of military equipment continues on down to things like night optical devices (NODs). NODs are those things soldiers strap to their helmets and flip down over their eyes to see in the dark. All throughout the movie, the three main characters are shown to have the NOD mounting plates attached to their helmets. Yet, when they tear off on a hunt for bad guys during a night mission they run around shining flashlights, which is tactically one of the dumbest things a soldier could do.
Running around with flashlights at night is but one example of things real soldiers would not do. They would not split up "to cover more ground." An enlisted soldier would not call a colonel "colonel." He would call the colonel "sir." A soldier would not sneak out of base disguised as a civilian, hijack an Iraqi's car at gunpoint, confront an Iraqi family, then weasel his way back on base with the lame excuse he'd been to whorehouse. There would have been serious consequences to his actions. The film gives the impression that the three EOD soldiers are gun totin' cowboys who answer to no one. In reality, there would be commanding officer who would, at the least, issue operation orders and hold the NCOs to a certain level of accountability.
The characters themselves are fairly unbelievabe. They don't talk like real soldiers. I didn't hear "hooah" uttered once. Nor did I hear much of the plethora of abbreviations and acronyms that comprises the military jargon spoken by soldiers. While SSG James' two sidekicks are cardboard cut-outs of Hollywood military cliches, James himself is an erratic, irresponsible, borderline-psychopath who would not last long in the leadership of men or the diffusement of bombs. His obsession/concern for the Iraqi boy he has unrealistically befriended is completely out of character.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. On the plus side, the landscape does look like Iraq, and the urban shots replicate the appearance of Baghdad quite well. The acting is adequate, I suppose, but I was not particularly enthusiastic about any specific performance. Quite frankly, it amazes me that they would make a film this sloppy and inaccurate, when correct information is so readily available. As it is, this is not a realistic war movie; it is a fantasy with nearly as much imagination as Avatar.
On a closing note, if you want to see an excellent film that provides an accurate view of the Iraq War in 2004, check out "The War Tapes." It's a documentary shot by soldiers themselves, and provides honest insight into the impact of war's daily grind.
Taut war drama exploring the psychology of soldiering
DarthRad | CA United States | 06/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie opens with the quote - "the rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug" (a modern paraphrase of Churchill's older and more famous maxim - "there is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result")
This is a thriller of a movie about a U.S. Army bomb disposal unit in Iraq and their daily grind in dealing with the IEDs and insurgents there.
This movie does have several stars - but Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pierce, and Evangeline Lilly all have fairly small roles. Blink, and you'll miss them. Their presence in this movie is more a testament to director/producer Kathryn Bigelow's status in the entertainment industry than anything else.
Jeremy Renner is Sergeant James, a bomb tech. Unlike his affable predecessor, he is a wild man. He seems not only indifferent to the dangers of his job, he absolutely revels in the dangers. It is the ultimate in thrill seeking behavior, getting that dopamine surge in his brain. Near the end of the movie, Sgt. James gets accused of being an adrenaline junkie, but we know now that the neurochemical at work here is dopamine. Bomb disposal is not just a job for him, but his passion, his addiction, his reason for being in the Army.
Renner's character ends up like a cross between Elmer Fudd, with his perpetually placid and slightly befuddled gaze, and Bugs Bunny, with his wile and lust for excitement and danger.
His two partners in the unit, Sgt. Sanborn and Specialist Eldridge, who have to cover him and just want to survive their tour of duty, don't know quite how to deal with his determination to confront danger. One wonders at why Sgt. James puts himself in danger, why he takes the extra risks to defuse a bomb when detonating it would do. The scene that explains it all is when Sgt. James returns home to America one day and we see him doing the mundane chores of life as a civilian, cleaning out the rain gutters, cleaning up the kitchen, shopping with his wife and baby at the grocery store. As he stares at an entire wall full of colorful cereal boxes stacked along a grocery store aisle, a look of utter blankness, boredom, and despair fills his face.....nope, not for him, this dull life as a civilian....
The movie's storyline is a series of daily missions, almost like a documentary or a TV series, each episode standing alone and yet building upon previous episodes, each one presenting a new danger, a new challenge, another piece of the puzzle that is the war in Iraq.
What makes this movie work is the recreation of Iraq in this movie - it was filmed in Jordan with local Iraqi expatriates. We feel the oppressive tension of the whole country, of not knowing who the bad guys are and where the next bomb or bullet is going to come from. We feel the fear and uncertainty of the American soldiers, caught between their desire to be the good guys and wanting to make nice with the local Iraqis, while constantly needing to remain vigilant and suspicious, never knowing who is a good Iraqi, and who deserves to get shot. We feel the bewilderment and resentment of the local Iraqis, who get pushed around at every turn by the American soldiers.
Unlike so many other recent Iraq war movies, this movie makes no political statements, there is no right or wrong here. These are just men at work, doing a dangerous and dirty job, and these guys are darn good at what they do for their country, whatever the reasons are that they are doing it.
Master Blaster | 08/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a retired Army Bomb Disposal Team Leader I have to say it's right up there with 'Danger UXB' and A+++++to the writer and the director!!! A really well done depiction without the usual Hollywood hype/litery license/theater/BS. Oh, yea, about 'not being able to adjust after the regimented life', it has nothing to do with 'not being able to' and everything to do with 'not wanting to'. You'll enjoy the view into the lives of this very small brotherhood of military Bomb Disposers."
Do not sue people for enjoying your movie!
Johnny | 05/19/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The producers of this movie decided to sue everyone who downloaded it from p2p networks. That's thens of thousands of people, most of them probably big fans of this very film. That is not a good idea and for that I give the movie a lowest possible score."
Reeks of Hollywood Smarm
R. Williams | 05/19/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Do not bother with this film, especially if you are on active duty somewhere in the world (thank you). People like those that made this film, who have no direct experience in the military, much less with being ordered into combat, have no business writing about the very real and incomparable human truth of the experience. His characters are pinups pasted onto a fantastical and sheltered world view. There is no truth in this film.
Chartier is a moron and a thief. He twisted a true story from someone's personal experience into an absurd platform for Hollywood brand morals of self-importance. Complete waste of time if you want truth from art.