Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Hurt Locker

What can make a man unafraid of death? If his life is not worth living—irredeemable—and the end of it is a decidedly better alternative to its continuation. What then if it is the irreverence that injects the sublime into living? The utter disregard for the most primal fear frees him in a way nothing else can. Because his mind is unfettered, his actions are not crippled by the (potential) fatality of consequences. They are compulsively reckless; they release the being from the cage of fear and foreboding. Two sides of the same coin?

This is my single most important takeaway from “The Hurt Locker.” I will skip the chance to analyze and rate it (though I think I have said more here than I could have through a review). It is a movie unlike most others on war. It simply tells you, War is a drug. And let me add, for people like Staff Sergeant William James.

Toward the end of the movie, you realize that the choice for James is between love and fear. And he chooses both, in a way. His fear of ordinary, grounded existence pushes him as much as his pure love for what he does best drives him. To him, the life most others lead is probably even more terrifying than death. Surely, he is an escapist then. Yet, you see he’s anything but one. Both judgments are deserved, for both crimes are committed.

Everything I say about James seems insipidly worded, pablum. For he is that kind of a mystery. You can only watch the movie and then maybe you’ll get what I’m trying to say. Long after you’ve seen it, as you’re sitting by the window, wondering, things will fall into place.


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