I have no idea what the Iraq War is like. Sure I can watch "Generation Kill" and see that there appears to be great camaraderie and a startlingly large amount of down time. I can read articles and know that it's a politically delicate situation. And I can play "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" and blow away countless terrorists on max volume from the comfort of my large ultra plushy couch, yet the actual experience of war is foreign to me. The film "The Hurt Locker" is an excellent attempt to understand the both physical and psychological aspects of the Iraq War.
Masterfully directed by Katherine Bigelow (Point Break) and starring Jeremy Renner (who already has deserved Oscar buzz for his performance) and Anthony Mackie (highly underated ), this is an extrodinary peek into the lives of a bomb defusal unit in Iraq. Whether it is a car bomb situation next to the UN or an sniper standoff in the barren desert, the film is wired with so much tension, it was hard for me to sit still. Unlike other war films like "Body of Lies" and "The Kingdom" there is no elusive mastermind to track, and the narrative feels a little weak because of it.
At first this lack of a strong narrative bothered me, but then I realized, there isn't a core narrative in this war in Iraq War. The "mastermind" Saddam was captured in 2003, and we're still going. Heroes in the war come and go with each pentagon news blast. It's a continuing cycle, and the film has a similar structure. I mentioned before the film is attempt to understand the Iraq War, I use the word "attempt" because I believe no media can do the war justice simply because the viewer/reader has not lived through the experiences.
The last shot of a bomb defusal technician walking down a street alone towards an uncertain future is a perfect visiaul metaphor for this endless path the Iraq War currently has. Sure, end dates, goals, and benchmarks may be set (and met), but as long as there still are US troops in Iraq, there is no ending, damn, maybe there hasn't even been a middle yet.