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James P. O'Neil

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The Hurt Locker: My Response to Hoit

Posted: 02/04/10 10:47 PM ET

This may be a reach but, I suspect that Ms. Kate Hoit has not discussed the film with the majority of military personnel. So it would be reasonable to say that "the inaccuracies have alienated most service members from enjoying this movie" is as big an inaccuracy as any in the movie.

I really enjoyed 'The Hurt Locker'. Contrary to Ms. Hoit's expectations, it is not a training film or documentary and I do not think it was proclaimed to be. I was an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Tech and Officer for 18 years, continue to work and talk with EOD Techs on a daily basis (all services), have been to Afghanistan and Kuwait within the past six months, have watched the 'The Hurt Locker' with hundreds of EOD Techs in Central Florida, Washington DC , Alexandria, VA and other cities. I can tell you that the vast majority of the EOD community, that I have had contact with, has enjoyed it. Many have been interviewed and expressed that opinion in publications such as USA Today, the Politico, The Daily Beast, as well as in radio and television interviews. Do they all like it? No. However, I would say most do.

Rather than dwell on sleeves (which are frequently rolled up) or whether the uniform color is right, credit should be given for bringing the incredible challenges and stresses of IED warfare to the forefront. The filmmakers have chosen to examine extraordinary American warriors, who on a daily basis, without regard for political, religious or racial differences, willingly walk towards a violent death or life shattering injury in an effort to save another. Few other experiences in life provide a testimony to one's love for another and the passion of a profession. The film brings this extraordinary group of men and women to our attention. I am personally thankful for that.

'The Hurt Locker' takes place over a year, compressed to two hours. Every moment of it is intense. Jeremy Renner's character and personality is a composite of a dozen or so EOD techs that I know. Were we as reckless as James? Hell no. I probably would have punched him out as well. The "beyond the wire" insurgent hunt and hoodie run, may not be entirely realistic, but no one can honestly say they weren't entertained and glued to their seats during these sequences. I am sure, under Ms. Hoit's level of scrutiny, no war film including Patton, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Top Gun, or Apocalypse Now would be enjoyable or worthy of an award. I feel she misses the point. I watched, enjoyed, ate my popcorn, and was thoroughly entertained by all of these films.

'The Hurt Locker' has done more to raise the awareness of the EOD profession than any single work to date, for which I am grateful. I appreciate Kathryn Bigelow's, Mark Boal's, and the entire team's effort and apparently so do Oscar voters. Good luck guys!!