The Hurt Locker

The Hurt LockerThe 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.


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8 Responses to “The Hurt Locker”
  1. Steph says:

    I absolutely loved this movie and found it to be far more thrilling than the average “stuff blowing up real good” movie. The tension gets built up so well that the visual of explosions really becomes secondary.

    Great review.
    .-= Steph´s last blog ..Review: Summer Hours (2009) =-.

  2. Mad Hatter says:

    “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…”

    Couldn’t agree more. This movie has a lot to say about the men and women who we have sent to fight our battles for us, and it says what it has to without seeming like a sermon.

    For me, this is the best movie of the year so far.
    .-= Mad Hatter´s last blog ..Death and All of His Friends (LOVELY BONES Trailer) =-.

  3. Anh Khoi Do says:

    This film is now part of my list of favourite war films for sure. Although I was surprised to see a script that doesn’t follow the guidelines that we’re used to (hence the feeling of a documentary), I liked it in the end. Such a brilliant study of characters that show us how many men feel strong, but yet fearful at some point.

    If this movie doesn’t have any artistic recognition at the next Oscars, I’ll be asking myself some questions about the American Academy.
    .-= Anh Khoi Do´s last blog ..Nowhere In Africa =-.

  4. Ben says:

    Dude, this movie was great. It really gives a slice of Iraq pie for the viewer. One of the coolest scenes I thought was at the grocery store, when he’s just staring at all of the cereal boxes. It’s sickening almost to him. I think he fell in love with not loving anything else, since everything else hurt too much.
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..The MCAT =-.

  5. Tim says:

    This very well could be the most subversive movie we’ve seen since “There Will Be Blood.” It doesn’t blink, but it never sinks to flagging its points, either. Bigelow and Baol are magnificent in letting the politics rise out of the story instead of hanging them up on plot points and turgid symbolism. (“The Valley of Elah” was also good at this, although it wasn’t entirely flinch-free–the upside-down flag, for instance…)

    What really made this picture work for me was Bigelow’s uncanny skill with atmosphere. She shows us nothing but rubble and chaos created by the insurgents. Yet her refusal to place blame lets the blame fall where it must. Why are the Iraqis blowing their city and one another up? Because we’re there. And why are our soldiers frayed past reason? Because what they’re doing there is unclear. This is a filthy war created by filthy politicians who hunt for sport and golf for life.

    I think “The Hurt Locker” stands proudly beside “The Battle of Algiers” and “All Quiet on the Western Front”–antiwar movies that bring the hurt home.

  6. Frank says:

    Alrtight BFF, I’m taking a deep breath on this one. I think this film was good, not great or perfect. I have a really hard time understanding why everyone fell in love with the film. I think it was blown out of proportion (much like “Crash” was).

    The only main reason I can see why people clung to it was because the film didn’t have an “agenda” – sure it did – it’s anti war!

    I felt the three cameos by Fiennes, Morse and Pearce were excellent, but they were too distracting and took away from the film and Renner’s performance (which did NOT deserve to be nominated).

    I think all the films that came out this year, “A Single Man” was the finest and richest film we’ve seen in years.

    I think I am alone in saying that “A Serious Man” is the Coen Brothers masterpiece.
    .-= Frank´s last blog ..Music Facts! =-.

  7. blake says:

    @Frank – I see what you’re saying about being anti-war. I don’t think any movie about the subject could really be pro-war, unless you’re Riefenstahl. But what I liked about The Hurt Locker was that it didn’t place blame anywhere. I felt like she focused on purely showing the results of war and didn’t get into the the politics of religion, or oil or anything. I generally don’t enjoy war movies, but this really blew me away.

    I agree with you about A Single Man. I absolutely loved it and couldn’t believe it wasn’t nominated for best picture, and I think I may have liked A Serious Man as much as you. I kick myself all the time for giving it three and a half stars instead of four.
    .-= blake´s last blog ..Terribly Happy (Frygtelig lykkelig) =-.

  8. Frank says:

    It’s never to late to change it son, never to late.*

    *Sometimes I’ll go back and change my rating in hopes that no one notices. It makes me giggle inside.
    .-= Frank´s last blog ..Music Facts! =-.

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