Wednesday, 9 June 2010

It hurts...

Sorry that its been a bit quiet here these past couple of days; I was busy moving to a new house, so you should probably count yourselves lucky this place was dead for just nine days Kit from the Polemical reports hasn't finished moving his stuff yet and he started it months ago.

And I haven't really done much of consequence besides lift boxes, nor as anything in the news really irked me to the point of ranting. I did have time to watch a movie though and as I'm sure you can tell by that image of the films poster and that poor attempt at a joke in the title which film it was.

Unfortunately overall I was quite underwhelmed by this movie and so was very surprised to learn that it practically mopped the floor with the competition critically I mean damn 98% and six BAFTA's? etc.

Anyway I should probably clear something up straight away before I get into the actual film, I'm not going to be looking at this film from a Socialist perspective or any political perspective, nor am I going to comment on Imperialism or the actual Iraq Invasion all that much and its for a very good reason; that being that this film has absolutely nothing to say politically or even topically if it weren't for the desert motive and the Baghdad captions this could have been any conflict zone imaginable. Though it does at least touch on the psychological aspects of conflict and the tension that lie beneath the surface of any unit or team faced with extreme pressure so credit is due there I guess.

Anyway the film starts of with a literal bang as an Mobile phone detonated IED takes out are veteran bomb disposal team leader to both establish tension and set the scene for new boy and main character sergeant James to take over. And thats about it for the main plot, I actually like this part as I found quite refreshing, I was getting pretty sick of the fish out of water takes down the General Blood of the Evilanian a week out of basic training. However it does mean the film meanders a bit for the two hour run time. Thats really the main problem I have with this film and why I don't outright hate or like this film, because to me it didn't seem like the film actually knew were it was going or what type of war movie it was going to be, early on it looked like a very good demonstration of the 90% boredom 10% frightening excitement that is fairly close to the experiences of actual soldiers, a good example of this being the scene were they meet Liam Neeson and co out in the desert with the flat tire.

But then towards the end it seemed to veer of into the dumb macho-man direct to DVD action film territory as we not only have a child being murdered but also wired up to explode. In a film that has something to say about well anything a scene like this might have served as a strong condemning scene on the depths of human brutality or some other intellectual message.

But here its more like the launching pad for James descent into stupidity. James literally runs off the base to hunt down the child killer (the child in question happened to be a sort of friend to James)in a hoodie breaks in to random mans house only to be chased out by his wife and them nearly get shot when he returns to base. It then gets alot worse after being called out to the site of a potential suicide bombing involving a oil tanker decides on nothing more then a hunch that the attack was remote detonated (he has absolutley no evidence of this) decides to take the two men under his command off on a "haji hunt" despite the fact that on the scene are three platoons plus support units how do I know this? one of the men (Sanborn, hes sceptical about James abilities, follows the rules and Black) actually points this out to Sergeant James and is promptly overruled, hell they don't even bother to radio in that there leaving the scene so if trouble does occur which seems likely given the fact that their the main characters help will be several minutes away which could prove fatal.

I'm going to have a brief aside here to talk about the actual Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. You know what the main reason why Western deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are so low compared to their enemies? well it isn't that we have better training or equipment (they certainly help but there not the main reason) its because western armies have almost perfected the ability to respond to and support units in the field once they come under fire. This is why very brief hit and run tactics even wghen insurgent forces seem strong enough to overwhelm the initial force and IED's are so popular, they pretty negate the Wests main strength.

As previoulsy stated the film was fairly good on the realism aspect (as far as a film can be anyway , there'll never be a truly realistic war movie as that would be incredibly boring to watch) so to see it go from that to that scene from Star wars a new hope were Han Solo and Chewie chase those storm troopers around the death star in under ten minutes was a bit of a shock. I mean yes they did show Sergeant James rack up a few infractions before hand (removing his headset, deploying smoke for no reason) and while real military those would have been punished severely for the sake of establishing character traits (that of the balls of steel maverick) I was willing to let it go after all what real American hero plays by the rules? but even by action movie standards this is insane and stupid. They get to an area where there is three potential exits down three seperate very tight alleyways and theres only three of them of dear so of course they decide to still not inform command of what there doing and instead split up and each take a dark narrow ally on there own.

Of course realism kicks back in for a few minutes as one of the guys (that other guy Eldridge, whose going through some emotional issues and gives the film the most of the little substance it has)gets jumped and in the rescue actually gets crippled by Sergeant James in a friendly fire incident. And since this whole mad mission was done by Sergeant James over the objections of Sanborn and was not only a dereliction of his units operational orders but also the mission they were originally assigned potentially endangering those three platoons, but also got one of his men hospitalised from a friendly fire incident no less, couple this with his going AWOL to harass the local population and its no surprise that no punitive actions are taken by the Company CO or any Officer or disciplinary body. Still at least we get Eldridge calling James out on his bullshit as he gets airlifted out of there, I was actually afraid he would forgive the Sergeant for his criminal stupidity.

Its time for another little aside I think, this time about action and war movies in general, its a common theme to have the heroes violate there orders or go rogue in order to defeat the villains and say the day. usually we'll get one of those fake out scenes at the end were the hero gets chewed out by their superiors only for them to then give them a medal and drop all charges. Many films do this I've lost count of the times this happened in Star Trek In reality this couldn't be further from the truth, violating orders is and will often be punished regardless of the results of your actions, this is because heroic or not ALL armies are built on the chain of command or they cannot function, this why groups like Castro's July 26th movement was successful despite there material short comings, and any example of this not being the case regardless of the results is a direct threat to the chain of command and thus the whole structure of the armed forces. Now a successful violation of orders that ends up saving the day in real life may... may cause them to tone down there punishment but sometimes not even then as many a British sqauddie found out in World War One.

What really makes this really stupid is that Sergeant James wasn't successful it was a complete cock up and yet there was no real consequence to his actions. Anyway the film wraps up shortly after they meet a suicide bomber, okay a remorseful suicide bomber who wants the bomb to be disarmed so James marches out to save him not to redeem himself in the eyes of the men apparently they didn't mind either, its just to remind us hes a good guy. He fails miserably and then goes home the next day.The End.

So there we go another mediocre film that somehow raked in the trophies. I know I seem quite critical about this film but I don't really hate it in fact I thought the first half was very good it was full of subtlety, as realistic as Hollywood will probably ever get and a somewhat interesting psychological subplot with Eldridge. Its really the second half and its ludicrous set pieces and stupidity that drags it down for me.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I suppose all publicity is good publicity.

    I really do hope to be blogging soon. Until recently my only internet access was at the local library - and it felt indulgent to do anything other than what I was supposed to be doing, applying for jobs. I then got a crappy job to make ends meet and suddenly found myself decrying the inconvenient hours of the library.

    As of yesterday, I have internet access at home (yay!). I'm also starting a new (not crappy) job Monday. Unfortunately, working my notice at my crappy job and starting my new not crappy job means that I won't have time to blog in the immediate future, but I hope to have something worth posting next month.

    Hope you are well and enjoying your new home.


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