The Hurt Locker
The war in Iraq is one touchy-ass subject. It borders on the obscene to make a profitable film about this conflict, especially if it’s kitsch, or overly trite. Over the past five or six years, the surge of poorly made films, (which were only ever mildly entertaining at best), has rightly made moviegoers weary of such film fare. Fortunately, The Hurt Locker was placed in the most competent hands possible: those of director Kathryn Bigelow. She’s managed to create a film that’s both objective and human, hopeful, and heartbreaking. It doesn’t hurt either, that she had a little help from some of the brightest actors around.
This documentary-like fiction piece is penned by Mark Boal, who’s only other writing credit to date is the similarly genred In the Valley of Elah. The writing is fresh, and concise; a real credit to Boal who seems to have the ability to capture soldiers in their element. The story takes place in modern day Iraq. The real focus falls on Delta Company, made up of soldiers incharge of locating and neutralizing IEDs. With less than forty days left in Delta’s rotation, the goal seems to have refocused from securing Iraq’s freedom, to staying alive long enough to return home on leave. The IEDs these soldiers face range between the most simplistic, obviously homemade, to technologically advanced, and severly dangerous.
There’s no lack of violence in The Hurt Locker, but it’s never there for the sake of violence itself. In fact, the explosions, and occasional deaths take a back seat to the drama of regular Joes struggling to be both normal people, and soldiers that are okay with killing when needed. Jeremy Renner plays lead Staff Sergeant William James; a troubled, yet brilliantly talented bomb tech. Guy Pearce makes an impressionable cameo, as does Ralph Fiennes, and a slue of other talented actors.
Bigelow’s minimal use of music gives The Hurt Locker the feel of a documentary. To some, this will feel inflammatory, and invasive. The point of the film should be clear, some will say. But Bigelow’s film has managed to transcend any sort of classifiable definition. If it feels real to life, it seems to have served its purpose. At the same time, it doesn’t leave the viewer feeling like he was just preached to for two hours, they’ve experienced something real, and authentic, and, perhaps, something a little uncomfortable. At the same time, the entertainment factor never falls by the wayside. It earns its R rating, but isn’t exploitative. This is first class summer entertainment.