YEAR IN FILM: The year hyperreal cinema of the combat zone replaced pedestrian politicking
Similarly, Bigelow's film pivots on the saga of American IED fatalities in Iraq, but celebrates as heroes morally dubious outlaws playing in the postmodern desert of the real. Locker's insidious epigram, "The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug" — lifted from Chris Hedges' War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning — sums up a picture that is as much about the sensory pleasures of combat as its horrific ugliness. While Bigelow turns to the hard-boiled Americana of Samuel Fuller and Howard Hawks for her inspiration, she has translated them through what French cultural theorist Paul Virilio might term "dromocratic" consciousness, where traditional cinematic politics have disappeared and been replaced with a hyperreal "logistics of perception."
The result is an apolitical pleasure dome of sensory overload; guns become canons, explosions appear as living sculpture, urban war zones are makeshift playgrounds. Like Inglourious Basterds, The Hurt Locker delights in its own ethical and political vacuum, generating fantasies of immolation without sourcing it as either a psychological grotesque (e.g. PTSD) or an ideological other (i.e. Nazis or Iraqis). When the IED experts finally reach the end of their tour, the tedious suburban lives that await them are a pathetic denouement. Is it possible, Bigelow seems to muse, that the real American dream lies on the battlefield and not the home front?