‘The Hurt Locker’ is a film about a Bomb Disposal Squad (called EOD) in Iraq. Sergeant William joins an EOD team after their Sergeant dies in an explosion. William, played by Jeremy Renner, is a daredevil. He defies protocol and walks into bomb territory all by himself, much to the chagrin of his teammates the protocol-abiding Sanborn and the newbie in the army Eldridge. In spite of his teammates insisting on following guidelines, William pretty much does his own thing – walks into situations, getting rid of bombs and wires like weeding out grass. In an interesting scene, his teammates ponder killing him and reporting it as a ‘mistake’.
Gradually, the team members bond and get to know each other, as they go from one mission to the other. As the movie progresses, director Kathryn Bigelow shows you the different facets of war. She makes you wonder if the experience is worth it, or if it something that cannot be done without. She makes you wonder if the lives of common people can be sacrificed on the basis of hunches and suspicions.
‘The Hurt Locker’ is neither overwhelming, nor underwhelming. It is a gritty representation of war, and the effect on the many people who are party to it. In the penultimate scene when Sergeant William goes back home and is in a supermarket, totally at sea when he has to choose from a hundred varieties of cereal.
It is then that I understood what the quote meant. For those involved in it, war is after all, a drug. You know it is not the right solution, you know it is something to be condemned. But once you have been in it, you know there cannot be a life without it.
Watch ‘The Hurt Locker’. You might love it, or you might be bored. But you will have something to think about.