Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Here’s Why ‘The Hurt Locker’ Is The Worst War Movie Of All Time
With six Oscars and nine nominations, Kathryn Bigelow’s 2008 thriller “The Hurt Locker” is one of the most critically acclaimed war movies to come out of the Global War On Terror. The film follows a team of Army explosive ordnance disposal technicians in Iraq, where they wage a seemingly endless war against the preferred weapon of their enemies: the improvised explosive device.
“The Hurt Locker” is beautifully shot, but that’s about the only nice thing I’m going to say about it. For all of its accolades, the film is incredibly polarizing, with civilian and veteran audiences having very different opinions.
Here’s a line about Jeremy Renner’s character, Staff Sgt. William James from Roger Ebert’s review of “The Hurt Locker.”
“He isn’t an action hero, he’s a specialist, like a surgeon who focuses on one part of the body over and over, day after day, until he could continue if the lights went out.”
To get a more on-the-ground perspective, we asked an Afghanistan War veteran and former Army explosive ordnance disposal technician, Kollin Knight, how he would describe the film’s protagonist.
“A toolbag idiot,” Knight tells us.
The film takes a lot of flak for its lack of realism, and even more for Renner’s character, James, who is presented as some no-fucks given cowboy, in a field where precision and caution are vitally important, explains Knight.
Here’s a breakdown of everything “The Hurt Locker” gets wrong and why it is without a doubt the worst Iraq War movie of all time.
No EOD tech would just man-handle a daisy-chain of 155s.
When James uncovers six 155 artillery shells wired together into a massive IED, he pulls on it for no good reason.
“And he just lifts up six of them, all daisy-chained together, which A: You’d never do that by hand, it’s amazing that he did. B: How the fuck is one arm that strong to just pick up all of these 155s?” says Knight, who adds that each shell can weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.
Skipping over the superhuman strength required to lift 600 pounds worth of ordnance, one-handed, there’s another problem: Nobody would do that, even if they could.
“You don’t know what you’re doing, what’s in there, which is why you don’t just pick shit up by hand and toss it around,” says Knight. “Which is why we stress using robots and doing things remotely and slowly and cautiously, instead of just “Oh shit, I just found a bunch of them, I’m gonna pick them all up.”
There’s no way that guy would be a team leader.
“Throughout the movie, the team leader is just portrayed as having no regard for his life, and so no regard for his team,” says Knight. “He wouldn’t even be team leader certified anymore, at that point. For the shit that he does he could easily lose his certification, end up in prison, or get completely removed from EOD. Realistically it wouldn’t happen. He would not exist."
Then there’s the whole “I’m hot shit” image that he’s hellbent on maintaining.
“He also walks up to the device, I think the first one he does is a car bomb with some ordnance in the trunk and he takes off his bomb suit and is like, ‘If I’m going to die, I’m going to die comfortable.’ And you’re just like, what the fuck?” Knight asks, rhetorically.
Knight explains that while there are times when an EOD tech would remove his or her bomb suit, it’s never without good reason.
“He had complete access to everything, he wasn’t being limited at all, he was just like, Ahh, I want to feel alive and be hot shit,’” says Knight.
If the team leader was looking to die comfortable, he should have taken a note from this guy.
On top of that, he decides to go for a late-night jog in a hoodie, in Baghdad.
“And of course, there’s that scene where he goes outside of a FOB and hunts down this professor for some reason, and he’s just walking around, out in Iraq, in a hoodie, with a gun, and you’re like, ‘What the fuck?’” says Knight.
Nobody does this. It simply doesn’t happen. It makes no sense, and anyone who’s ever served in a post-9/11 warzone probably reacted to that scene the same way: What the fuck?
The EOD techs in this movie are all safety violators.
“They’re just blowing stuff up outside of the FOB which are regular EOD operations and you know, his team members are already pretty upset with him and they’re about to set up the shot,” says Knight of Renner’s character.
“They’re ready to go, they’re about to blow it up, and he’s like, ‘Oh, I forgot my gloves,’ and he just goes back down into the shot hole, a couple hundred feet away, with the trigger live, armed, and you’re walking back down into the shot and that’s a huge safety violation and you’re an idiot because you’re walking up to live explosives at that point that can blow you up.”
The team leader keeps evidence as momentos. In a shoebox, no less.
“One of the things we get hounded on when we show up in country is how important evidence collection is” says Knight, who explains that in addition to disposing of unexploded ordnance, and destroying IEDs, they’re also responsible for collecting and identifying evidence so government agencies can assist with tracking down the bombmaker.
“So to have a box of stuff that’s valuable like that and sitting under your bed for no good reason, that’s punishable by federal law I believe,” says Knight. “He’s just like, ‘Uh, it’s a box of stuff that nearly killed me,’ and you’re like, ‘No you fucking idiot, you should turn that in so they can find the bombmaker!’”
EOD techs are highly trained, but they’re not qualified snipers.
“Of course everyone hounds on the ridiculous scene where they come upon the British SAS guys and somehow they’re able to operate a Barrett .50-cal better than any of those guys and snipe a dude from a mile away and all this stuff. Everyone recognizes the absurdity of that.”
Though EOD techs do receive some training on the .50-cal as a way to destroy an IED by shooting it, they’re not snipers.
“We get to fire them once a year, as a fuck around, because it is a legitimate defusing method in some really obscure cases, so we still train with it, but it's not like we’re gonna be better than any SOF guys,” says Knight.
EOD is a support element, so where’s their overwatch?
In one scene, the team realizes a bombmaker is nearby, and what do they do? They peel off one by one and go searching for him. That’s a lot of ground for three dudes to cover, especially when you consider they probably had (or should have had) an overwatch element nearby.
“You have a security element that could maybe do that, but even then, they’re smart enough to not split up into one-man teams, you know?” says Knight.
“The Hurt Locker” gives people the wrong idea about EOD.
“We’ve had guys join the career field who come to EOD school and say, ‘I saw ‘The Hurt Locker’ those guys are badass I wanna be that,’” says Knight. “They think we’re some badasses who go and do all these crazy things and just have no regard for our own life, and it’s like no, most of us have a lot of regard for our own life. We don’t like getting blown up either.”
Knight also adds that yes, while EOD techs may play a fast and loose with regulations — raise your hand if you’ve ever seen one with unbloused boots and cuffed sleeves in country — they’re professionals when and where it counts.
“If something’s on the line, something that matters, we understand the seriousness of it. When we’re in the moment we’re 100% on top of it,” says Knight.
Several hundred U.S. troops will remain in Syria after allied forces clear ISIS fighters out of their last stronghold in the country, a senior administration official told Task & Purpose on Friday.
President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.
Former Navy SEAL arrested on weapons charges in Haiti says he was doing security work tied to Haiti's president
The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.
"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."
The untold story of the dapper Marine who became the Greatest Generation's 'distracted boyfriend' meme
It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.
Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.
The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.
US special operations forces are getting a first-of-its-kind training facility that can simulate hurricanes
MAPLE, N.C. -- A maritime center with a pool big enough to hold a small ship and simulate hurricane conditions is set to open in Currituck County, North Carolina, in two years. It will serve to train groups such as special forces, law enforcement and offshore wind crews.
It could be the first of its kind in the world.