“The Hurt Locker”
“The Hurt Locker” is the movie you’d rather not watch starring the people you hardly know, dealing with a subject matter you’d prefer to avoid:  the awful war in Iraq .  Set in 2005, it’s about a U.S. Army bomb squad that answers calls about a potential i.e.d. (improvised explosive device).  With gritty, everyday kind of detail, Director Kathryn Bigelow shows us how this beleaguered group of otherwise-ordinary soldiers tries to support each other through their very harrowing days.  Bombs can be planted any time, anywhere.  They are homemade, so their characteristics are as individual as the insurgents who make them.  Oh, that’s the other thing, about the insurgents:  they don’t wear army uniforms.  They aren’t readily identifiable.  They meld into the population, and so the occupation troops, even if well-meaning, never know if a man holding a camera might be sending a signal to someone out of sight, or if an ordinary-looking shopkeeper, talking on a cell phone, might be sending a deadly signal to detonate a hidden device beneath them.
These are all-American young men, gung-ho and trained and alert, but nothing could really prepare them for life in this hellhole.  If they leave the protective cocoon of their own base, they are at risk of being isolated---and the bad guys would like nothing better than to catch them alive, interrogate them, torture them, humiliate them, film them, and use them for propaganda, even executing them for all the world to see.  They have to rely on their intuition about rapidly-changing situations, and sometimes they’re given many random clues, and sometimes their own fears shake them, and then there are the times when the rage turns into revenge, and the constant flirting with death morphs into a kind of cavalier disregard for personal safety---theirs or their mates.  It’s a heady, intense, nerve-jangling mixture that causes many a soldier to suffer from anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, and battle fatigue, but occasionally one will recognize that the adrenalin rush is itself addictive.  Except they’re not supposed to admit that they enjoy this, even to themselves.
            The images in this movie will haunt you for days afterwards.  Many genteel folks, of course, do not wish to subject themselves to such mental anguish, and will avoid the experience altogether.  But to those who avail themselves, “The Hurt Locker” is a film about how that war is really fought “over there” that you won’t soon forget.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas