Here is an item from last July made more relevant by this movie winning a boatload of Oscars last night, including best picture, best director, and best screenplay:
My wife's idea of a good time last weekend was going to see The Hurt Locker, the new movie about Army EOD techs (explosive ordnance disposal guys-that is, the bomb squadders) in Iraq. So off we went, faster than an EFP in Sadr City.
It's a gripping movie, and I think it gets the emotions right. I also am guessing that it was good on the technical details of EOD work, since the credits listed an expert in that. The film was well-made, notably with persuasive bomb detonations -- not just the usual Hollywood explosions of a cloud of fiery gas, but big rumbling blasts with lots of rocks and dirt and dust hurled your way. Also, they got lots of the American military in Iraq right-the feel of a FOB (forward operating base), even the look of the latrines. And they do the heat of Iraq and its trashy streets right. I think it is the best movie made about the Iraq war so far -- the only one that comes close is The Situation, and that was more about journalists than about soldiers. Interestingly, both movies are set in the summer of 2004, when it was becoming clear that this thing was kind of a fiasco.
But there were enough mistakes on the details to keep me squirming in my seat:
None of these missteps really diminished the movie as entertainment. In a way, they made it easier for me to watch it, because they diminished the intensity by reminding me that this is just a movie. On the other hand, like a clock that strikes 13, they did give me pause, pulling me out of the moment of the movie, again and again. I love it when the small details are right -- it shows the moviemakers cared enough to get it right. It wouldn't have cost much to hire a couple of non-EOD consultants.
Afterward, we went out for Middle Eastern food, which seemed appropriate. The restaurant actually served EFES, the Turkish beer my bureau would drink in Baghdad when Heineken wasn't available. Back then I actually found EFES better because it was fresher -- I suspect the Heineken spends an awful lot of time cooking in the desert en route.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.