The war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan and the "war on terror" (to use the increasingly forgotten Rumsfeldian formulation) never really got their John Wayne/Green Berets moment in Hollywood: a big movie whose unembarrassed purpose is to endorse the military action. Most of the serious responses have been liberal-patriot fence-straddlers, multistranded stories urgently set in Washington, the Middle East, south Asia and elsewhere, tying themselves in knots in an attempt to acknowledge a dovey point of view while covertly leaning to the hawk's – pictures such as Stephen Gaghan's Syriana, which showed torture in terms of CIA man George Clooney being tortured by an Arab, Robert Redford's mealy-mouthed Lions for Lambs, Gavin Hood's issue-fudging Rendition, and Peter Berg's The Kingdom, with its feeble moral equivalence between jihadist zealots and the US army.
How weird and ironic, then, that the nearest thing we have to Wayne is also the best and most insightful anti-war film about Iraq: Kathryn Bigelow's blazingly powerful action movie The Hurt Locker, whose unpretentious clarity makes for a refreshing change.
Some critics have hailed “The Hurt Locker” because the film “doesn’t take sides” in the Iraq War — like that’s an admirable thing! I wonder if there were critics during the Civil War that hailed plays or books for being “balanced” about slavery, or if there were those who praised films during World War II for “not taking sides?” I keep reading that the reason Iraq War films haven’t done well at the box office is because they’ve been partisan (meaning anti-war).
The truth is “The Hurt Locker” is very political. It says the war is stupid and senseless and insane. It makes us consider why we have an army where people actually volunteer to do this. That’s why the right wing has attacked the movie. They’re not stupid — they know what Kathryn Bigelow is up to. No one leaves this movie thinking, “Whoopee! Let’s keep these wars going another 7 years!”
And, the author of the movie, Mark Boal, also wrote The Valley of Elah, one of the most overtly anti-war movies of the previous bombs.
So, if leftists like Michael Moore and the movie reviewer for the Guardian say that it's anti-war, and the author is overtly anti-war, and the movie's opening blurb about war being a drug is anti-war, then yeah, I'd say that it's anti-war.
No one leaves this movie thinking, “Whoopee! Let’s keep these wars going another 7 years!”
Talk about flailing .....