Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Hurt Locker

It probably comes as no surprise to my friends that on my sabbatical I've seen a few movies. Last night I went to see The Hurt Locker. It's a tense, realistic film about a U.S. Army EOD unit in Iraq - that stands for Explosive Ordnance Disposal. For two hours you're on the ground following these three amazing soldiers around the streets of Baghdad as they find and defuse bombs.

I love war movies, and this is one of my favorites. I was in knots the whole time, it was that exciting. And unlike many war movies, this one is not about the politics of war. It's war as seen from the ground, from the soldier's perspective.

It's inspiring as well. This is the story of men specially trained in sniffing out and disarming bombs that are buried in Iraqi soil, hidden in car trunks, strapped onto human beings, and - get this - even stuffed inside corpses. The bravery of these guys is just unbelievable to me. They have to put on special body armor and walk right up to suspicious items on the ground, identify them, and - if they are bombs - deactivate them.

Some interesting things about this movie... First off, it's directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. It's not often (ever?) that a war movie is directed by a woman. Mick LaSalle of the Houston Chronicle writes,
"[Bigelow] makes guy movies — and she makes them better than guys do. For most of her career, her superior talent has had to reveal itself through lesser material, but in the The Hurt Locker...Bigelow finds the perfect vehicle to show what she can do that others can't touch."
Second, the movie is based on recently-declassified government information about these bomb disposal squads. It was shot in Jordan, next door to Iraq. The screenwriter, Mark Boal, was embedded in Iraq for some time with a bomb disposal unit. The details, acting, camera work, and battle scenes make you feel like you're right there. You feel the indecision, the fatigue, the suspense, and the ever-present question: "Is this thing going to blow me to smithereens?"

Some well-known actors show up for brief scenes: Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, and Evangeline Lilly, for example. Also, the three main characters are played very well.

I couldn't help it. I saw Jesus in this movie. Jesus laid it all on the line for us. Like Sgt. Will James walking up to those IEDs, Jesus Christ carried his cross to Calvary and embraced the explosive wrath of God in our place. He said to sinners, "Stay away. I'll suffer for you. I don't want your help. Stay back. It's my mission. I will bear in my own body the weight of your sin. I will not only risk my life for you, I will give it for you. I will die that you might live."

And now this Jesus, who defused the wrath of the Father on our behalf, calls us to walk into enemy territory and set others free. We for whom Jesus suffered and died now must pick up our own cross, embrace a fallen world, and risk our lives for the gospel.

I ask myself...

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

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