The Hurt Locker directed by Kathryn Bigelow and a winner of six Academy Awards, demonstrated the life of soldiers in and out of war and the lasting effects that combat has on their lives. Jeremy Renner, in the role of Sergeant William James, plays the lead character in the film followed by supporting actors, Anthony Mackie as Sergeant Sanborn, and Brian Geraghy as Specialist Eldridge. With increased threats of terrorist’s attacks in the Twenty First Century, the ideas discussed in this paper are representative of the growing need to understand the psychological effects war has on soldiers. The review of the film, The Hurt Locker along with war-related literature focuses on war as a form of addiction, and analyzes how the brutality of war disrupts the lives of individuals on both sides of the social conflict.
In this combat film, the plot is based on an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team (EOD) during the Iraq war in 2004. The soldiers are responsible for disarming enemy explosives setup throughout the city. The storyline is constructed around the demonstrative behavior of Sergeant James, and how his attitude and actions put himself and his team in constant danger. Sergeant James, referred to in the film as the “Wildman” because of the record dismantling of 873 bombs during the war, enters Army Camp Victory as the lead of the EOD unit. James, in view of his job, is noted as saying “it’s just combat” and appears to not consider the danger. Through the story of these three men, Director Bigelow created imagery of soldiers fulfilling their duty while depicting the consequences war has on each one of these men’s psyches.
The intoxication of war seen in the character of Sergeant James represented the social issue faced by soldiers fighting terrorists. The goal in the preventive war is to eliminate dangerous groups, which is a direct response to the terrorism that struck the United States in the September 11 attacks. “Terrorists believe that they are legitimate combatants, fighting for a just cause, by whatever means possible” (Eitzen, Zinn, & Smith, 2011, p.526). Since extremist use any method necessary against the United States, soldiers are exposed to severe situations that leave them altered emotionally and mentally, unable to easily resume a life before war. While all images of war are dehumanizing, one illustrative scene on war brutality is demonstrated in the film when Sergeant James finds the body of a boy he presumably knows, lying dead on a table with a bomb sealed inside his body. The scene represented the perpetual issue of hatred aimed at the U.S. by going so far as to use a child as a weapon. Moreover, this kind of situation would infuriate soldiers and could provoke retaliation, which is often what terrorists want “to win sympathy for their cause” (Eitzen, Zinn, & Smith, 2011, p. 550).
War in terms of addiction, has its own challenges. The film begins with “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug. –...