Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Hurt Locker

"They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks... and they shall not train for war again." Isaiah 2:4

The Hurt Locker is an intense look at the day-to-day experiences of Army bomb disposal units currently serving in wartorn Iraq. More than anything else, this movie shows us the futility of the war - that even when 800+ bombs have been defused, 800+ more are waiting in the wings.

The film itself has no over-arching plot - except the ebb and flow of the everyday lives of one particular Army unit as they await the end of their deployment, yet still risk life and limb to extinquish these countless bombs buried in the sands of the desert.

In the opening scene of the film, after a bomb killed the team leader (Guy Pierce), Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) is sent to the company to take the lead of the three-person unit. James proves to be a reckless and impulsive soldier, especially when the situation calls for precision and patience. His teammates Sanborn and Eldridge (Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, respectively) feel his motivation is off - that his courage comes from a dark place.

These two other men, Sanborn and Eldridge, captivated me the most. While Renner is the star and his character the central figure, his is not the journey of the gospel. Sanborn and Eldridge, on the other hand, are admirable soldiers - their goal is to convert dangerous bombs to impotent hardware for the sake of peace, to quite literally do as the prophet Isaiah said: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks." (Is. 2:4)

Sanborn and Eldridge know that war is pointless - and look forward to a time of peace at home, to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy: "...and they shall not train for war again." (Is. 2:4). James' journey is the opposite - he looks forward to the war and is bored and tired of peace.

The Hurt Locker angered me in that it made the war-loving soldier the hero and the focus of our attention. As James confronts a group of sharp-shooters in the desert, he seems to take pleasure in killing them - while the others despise this part of their job. This is not the type of hero we need. Even though we see his concern for a young Iraqi soccer player, his only answer is vengeance. He is not the example we need to see.

War is ugly and for some, the violence and bloodshed can be a drug. Sanborn and Eldridge understood this. In their struggles of loneliness and fear, they knew that, if they had to be there, their goal was to turn as many swords into plowshares as they could - to turn those destructive bombs into innocent scraps of metal. Though this seems to be an insurmountable task, they do it as best they can to bring a little peace to the vast ugliness around them.

Let us pray for soldiers like Sanborn and Eldridge, that they might bring the peace of God into the evilness of war despite the circumstances. And let us also pray and be present for people like James, that they might turn away from their hatred and vengeance and embrace peace.

And finally, let us pray that all wars and all divisions might end; that dialogue, love, and cooperation be our end goal.

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