Sweet mother-of-Jesus, what a fantastic film! I've been wanting to watch this film SO MUCH that I have actually put off watching it for ages, in case it doesn't match my expectations. What did I expect? Well, I expected it to be harrowing, to change my view of the Iraq conflict and also I expected it to be 'pro-America'. The gauntlet was well and truly thrown down when a great mate of mine JW threw down the gauntlet/lent me the DVD.
I don't think I've ever watched a film that has really, unrelentingly captured such unwavering tension before. Not in the likes of Shutter Island, The Departed or John Carpenter's The Thing (to name a few) have I come across such dense, claustrophobic paranoia. As Kathryn Bigelow said (in the extras of the version I watched) she wanted the audience to be an extra person in the team that deals with the constant IEDs that Iraq presents to soldiers. Did it bring me to the front line? No. Did it make me feel what those soldiers feel? No. What it did do was to bring me completely out of my comfort zone, it made me fear to watch the characters live in the jaws of death and, above all, it made me re-evaluate what it is to be human.
The film was certainly harrowing. After managing to get into a good mood, the film certainly depressed me. The film definitely changed my view of the war in Iraq; I head so much about soldiers blown up by improvised bombs, little did I realise the extent to which soldiers go to try and defuse them, despite the fact they might kill everyone within a huge radius. The final, and perhaps most important question when it comes to a film of this type (given that it was from an American soldier's perspective): was it pro-America? There were very few cliche American flags flowing, and none of them were from a victorious batalion, establishing their mark on a hard-to-gain hill. Instead, the main message was about war as it happens to the ordinary man, how they become repulsed or addicted to the effects it brings about on them (i.e. the release of 'feel good' hormones, adrenaline and endorphins), and how they cannot adapt to civilian life afterwards (exemplified in the mundane supermarket shopping scene toward the end).
I bloody loved this film, despite a severe slackening of pace towards the end. That is subjective. What I can promise you, however, is that this film will be in the world's 'Top War Films' for many years to come, and that you are missing out until you see it.