An Oscar for America's Hubris
According to press reports, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally found a movie about the Iraq war they liked because it is “apolitical.” Actually, “The Hurt Locker” is just the opposite; it’s an endorsement of the politically chauvinistic view that the world is a stage upon which Americans get to deal with their demons no matter the consequence for others.
It is imperial hubris turned into an art form in which the Iraqi people appear as numbed bystanders when they are not deranged extras. It is a perverse tribute to the film’s accuracy in portraying the insanity of the U.S. invasion—while ignoring its root causes—that the Iraqis are at no point treated as though they are important.
That wasn't really the point of the movie either. It's to show the perspective of the Iraqis from that of the bomb disposal technicians - who are of course going to view those around the people observing their work with a range from indifference to fear. Knowing that any one of them is potentially waiting to set off the bomb while you're working on it doesn't exactly leave a lot of time to build friendships. Nor are they going to stop and reflect on the philosophical reasons behind the war while they're trying to avoid dying in a blast.
The article does mention the boy who Sgt. James befriends on base and whom he goes on a very dangerous unauthorized lone journey through Baghdad at night for at one point. But it doesn't mention the base psychiatrist trying to befriend Iraqis or the extraordinary efforts Sgt. James and his team go through to try and save an Iraqi family man who was locked into a suicide vest against his will; which almost wound up killing them as well. It also neglects to mention that they are also saving Iraqi lives by disabling these bombs and that there are several moments where the easier option would have been to simply kill the Iraqi person rather than risk your life, yet they chose to take the risk instead.
While I haven't served myself, I have a family full of veterans (some from Iraq and Afghanistan) and the depictions of daily life and what concerns the troops in the film ring true to what they've said for the most part. It's not an Iraq War film by Terrence Malick where everyone is waxing poetic about the reasons behind the war; they're just trying to survive and do their best for themselves and their team while fighting boredom, depression, and fears about life back home and the future.
I think people are expecting this movie to be way more than what it set out to be. It's not pro-war or anti-war, it's just trying to relate the experiences of these three guys doing an incredibly stressful job day in and day out.