The most moving scene in Megan Leavey, Hollywood’s latest big-budget war drama, doesn't take place in the desert, or on the bomb-cratered streets of Ramadi, but rather in a quiet neighborhood in upstate New York. The film’s title character, played by Kate Mara, wakes up in the middle of the night to a loud, wailing sound coming from outside her bedroom window. She’s just returned from Iraq. Half-awake, she stumbles into the yard, where she sees her father walking towards his car. “Don’t open it!” Leavey screams. Her father, confused, tells her the noise is just a car alarm. It takes a moment for Leavey to realize where she is, and that nothing is about to explode. All of the drama unfolds on her face. And that’s it. Scene over.
Every soldier’s Iraq War experience is different. Some hated every minute they were deployed; others never wanted to leave. Some questioned their reason for being there; others were convinced they were fighting the good fight. Some sympathized with the locals; others saw them only as the enemy. But regardless of how they felt about the war, most soldiers agreed that the situation on the ground was far more complicated than what politicians on both sides of the aisle made it out to be.