Take a look at Paul’s Blog on the Hurt Locker, over on the right hand column of this page. I think he makes some great points about our expectations of a Hero’s growth.
But I’m wondering if that was the point of the movie. The soldiers don’t believe in the cause and the people don’t want them there. The enemy is unidentified and there is no end that is even conceivable. This is a bad situation. But on a personal level, if James keeps being the perpetual hero he is not getting on with the other major transformations of life.
After one explores the boundary between the mortals and gods, as heroes do so well, and learns the skill and bravery to survive in the world alone (overcome the Mother complex), he needs to move on man, and learn to form a relationship with others. That was what Sanborn was able to do.
Maybe we needed a scene of the anguish of loving someone who will not risk loving you (James returning to war), or the joy of Sanborn, Stateside, facing life with an open heart. Sanborn recognized the value in connecting to others as a result of his experience with James.
Hurt Locker is about the downside of being a Hero and not being able to move to the next stage. I definitely left the theater thinking about that and when a movie makes me think, it’s a good one.