At a recent Palm Springs Film Festival gathering Hurt Locker producer-screenwriter Mark Boal introduced Sean Penn to The Wrap‘s Steve Pond, and they were off to the races. Boal’s film, said Penn, “is one of the three greatest war pictures ever made,” the other two being Come and See and Coming Home. (What about Paths of Glory and A Walk in the Sun?)

“It’s not an anti-war film, it’s not right or left…it doesn’t take sides,” said Penn. “It’s real life, executed skillfully and powerfully. It trusts that real life is incredibly dramatic, and it says to you, there are times when it might be the right thing to support war – but know that war hurts. The Hurt Locker hurts.

“It’s dealing with a territory where I spent time I am an envious person, and I wanted to criticize it. But I couldn’t, because it gets it right.”