Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
SSgt. James: If I’m gonna die, I wanna die comfortable.
A dramatization of the kind of dangers a bomb squad faces every day in Iraq.
I had two trains of thought going while I watched this movie. First, these are some tense, ugly, confusing situations that I would never want to be involved with. Second, as a movie, this stuff just seems like familiar territory to me. I’ve seen people disarming bombs before, soldiers pinned down by sniper fire, and the day to day hardships of being a soldier at war. Not that that isn’t compelling stuff, but this movie didn’t have a particularly original take on it, in my opinion. Though, I have to admit, this isn’t exactly my favorite genre of films.
The question I kept asking myself was, “are there really explosive experts with attitudes like James?” Jeremy Renner plays him as a cocky showman who tosses aside protocol in favor of theatrics. Now, I don’t know diddly about diddly when it comes to war, but it seems like the military prides itself on protocol and procedures as the things that keep soldiers alive. Are the chances that James takes meant to be perceived as heroics? I guess it makes for an exciting movie, but I can’t say that it felt very authentic to me. Of course, as I mentioned, I’ve never been in any situation even remotely resembling combat – unless a paint ball war counts.
For every interesting turn the movie took, there was also a totally predictable turn. From the moment Eldridge (Geraghty) tells a certain character that he should accompany them on a mission one day, was there any doubt as to what that character’s eventual fate would be? There were several other telegraphed moments as well, which seemed strange in a movie that’s all about how suddenly and shockingly things can change in war.
I know it sounds like I’m shredding this movie, but that’s probably because it’s disappointing to see something that I feel could have been much more interesting settle for too many big dramatic theatrical moments rather than concentrating more on the little things that we don’t often think about when we think of soldiers at war. One moment that does succeed in this, for example, is a scene where they are pinned down by snipers, but have their own gun aimed at the little hut the enemy is hiding in. They sit there, focused, unmoving for hours waiting for a target to emerge. The sun’s beating down, sand is building up on their faces…it’s awful, but it’s an interesting moment.
To sum up, this movie features good performances and some tense moments, but it never felt as authentic as I think the filmmakers were going for (despite the overly shaky camera movements). Add to that the predictability, and you’ve got a movie that is certainly watchable but not one that I think is deserving of the hype it’s been getting.
There is actually a man who would rather go back to war than stay home with Evangeline Lilly??
10 – 2 for predictability and lack of much originality – .4 for too much shaky cam – .7 for not feeling all that authentic = 6.9