EOD Soldiers view 'The Hurt Locker'
July 7, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 6, 2009) -- Fast-paced, heart-stopping, explosive action fill the new movie "The Hurt Locker," even though Soldiers say many of the scenes are inaccurate.
The movie, which opens in major cities around the country July 10, follows the day-to-day bouts of three Soldiers in an explosive ordnance detachment in Iraq.
Capt. Robert Busseau and two EOD Soldiers from the 20th Support Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., attended a premiere showing of the film June 24 in Washington, D.C.
"It's definitely Hollywood," said Sgt. Mike Wells at the premiere, referring to the over-dramatized plot of the film. Wells served in Iraq with an EOD detachment.
"The movie is from a Soldier's point of view," director Kathryn Bigelow said at the premiere. "The movie shows what it's like to be on a bomb squad in Baghdad in 2004."
In the movie, an EOD detachment is led by a reckless Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner), who takes a level-headed Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and shy Spc. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) on an unimaginable path throughout their tour of duty.
They deactivate car bombs and roadside explosive devices, all while guarding each other against insurgent forces. The characters also deal with psychological issues that come with the loss experienced in battle.
"I think the movie was a little skewed toward PTSD. It's definitely out there, but it's not as prevalent as it is in this movie," Busseau said.
The Army has not supported the movie due to inaccurate depictions of Soldiers.
"The movie-goer in me thought it was an entertaining movie, the Soldier in me was disappointed by inaccuracies and the inaccurate portrayal," said Lt. Col. Gregory Bishop, Army Public Affairs-West film liaison officer.
Despite the lack of support from the Army, Spc. Charlie Perkins said he enjoyed the film.
"The characters seemed to grow throughout the film instead of remaining static, which kept it entertaining," Perkins said. "I would tell others to go see it."
"The issue I have with it is people are going to watch this and think it's realistic, because it looks realistic. They've got Soldiers mostly wearing uniforms the right way, they look like Soldiers and it looks like Iraq to the uninformed," Bishop said.
Although the unit performs acts of heroism, the Soldiers also partake in illegal activities. In one scene, Soldiers are swigging whiskey and fist-fighting each other in their barracks. In another, a colonel orders a Soldier to assassinate a prisoner.
"That would never happen," Busseau said. "A Soldier would NEVER do that."
Recklessness was another major issue with the Soldiers.
"I would have fired James," Busseau said. "The way he was poking around and fooling with the IEDs without knowing what they were is extremely dangerous."
"I don't think someone like Staff Sgt. James would do well [in the field]. We spend a lot of time training and practicing safety," Busseau said.
Jim O'Neil, executive director of the EOD Memorial Foundation, said the inaccuracies do not take away from the importance of the film.
"The vast majority of everyone I talked to enjoyed the film, and they appreciated there is a credible EOD movie. This very dangerous field in the military has been overlooked in the entertainment industry," O'Neil said. "It's a movie, not a training film."
Retired EOD technician James Clifford was an advisor to the movie, and he suggested to director Kathryn Bigelow that screenings of the film be used as a fund raiser. O'Neil had two showings in Virginia and Florida that raised about $2,500 for the EOD Foundation.
"While there was some license taken throughout the film, we enjoyed it," O'Neil continued.
For more information about the EOD Memorial Foundation visit www.eodmemorial.org.