From early on in the film it felt so real it seemed to be a documentary and you were watching a troop through the eyes of a camera man. Obviously this is a true testament to the incredible acting by the cast (I actually can't fault a single one of them!) and the Oscar winning (and rightly so) director. But it made for an uncomfortable 2 hours viewing. It felt like watching a special news report. Everyone needs to and should watch the news but nobody would say that they liked it, no matter how brilliantly the report was done.
The plot is surprisingly simple as it follows three soldiers who make up a bomb disposal unit and are called on a daily basis to investigate and safely detonate or diffuse newly discovered road side bombs. And their stories are so un-Hollywood real that it (pardon the pun) blew me away. There is the guy who is seeing a shrink to talk out his issues and is struggling with his everyday duties, the one who never settled down because he wasn't ready to grow up and the madman leader who plays by his own rules and doesn't like to talk about his family at home. And the use of general unknowns only added to the reality of it all.
The cinematography was absolutely mind blowing, with slow motion used to show the immediate effects of an explosion, to great success. It is quite unlike films of the same genre - Black Hawk Down, Jarhead etc - because it is less about the shooting and blowing things up action of war and more about the quiet suspense of diffusing a bomb and watching closely for snipers. The tension hardly lets up for 2 solid hours and its exhausting but gripping stuff.
It is brilliantly made, acted and directed. I cannot fault it as a film - but ultimately it's the lingering mood it leaves behind that I didn't like. Simply put, it was a total downer. It's not exactly a weepy but the sombre feeling is hard to shake. But perhaps that is what is needed. No more happy endings for war films - war is not and never will lead to happy endings.
The life of a soldier is a complex thing I cannot begin to understand but perhaps the overall message is that it changes you in such a way that cannot simply be switched off when you leave the battlefield. And to show it, you cannot switch off the feelings you have at the end of the film, even if you take the DVD out the machine and throw it out the window. (I didn't do that - honest!)
So what I would say is that it is a brilliant piece of cinema and will no doubt be studied for many years to come. It is worth a watch but with caution - as I was brilliantly advised don't do it before bed and don't do it if you're feeling down. And then never watch it again (unless you like that sort of thing).
I'd say enjoy... but it doesn't sound right.