The Hurt Locker Movie Review

It's intriguing to watch a battlefield movie that manages to be gritty and harrowing as well as sensitive and moving, but that's what Bigelow has done.

This is a film that often makes us flinch from the screen, mainly because of a superbly layered performance by Renner.

In war-torn Baghdad, the American bomb disposal team uses dry humour to cope with their job. But the new senior officer, James (Renner), is rather enigmatic and strange. His teammates Sanborn and Eldridge (Mackie and Geraghty) find his maverick attitude difficult, leading to tense exchanges in extreme situations.

In addition to dealing with a variety of bombs, the team has a desert encounter with a private contractor (Fiennes), and James befriends a 12-year-old pirate-video merchant (Sayegh) who loves playing football.

This isn't a plot-driven thriller; it's about the internal journey James takes during his tour of duty. An opening caption comments that "war is a drug", and we can see James' deep addiction to the adrenaline of such dangerous situations, which contrasts against his distant feelings for his wife (Lilly) and baby back home. Renner catches this with a wonderfully subtle performance that really gets under the skin. He sharply shows James' cocky confidence and lets us see the cracks of uncertainty that he hides from everyone else.

Both Mackie and Geraghty are terrific too, as is Camargo as a counsellor Eldridge is seeing. And cameos by Pearce, Fiennes and Morse add blasts of colourful personality that echo Apocalypse Now in James' private odyssey. These side characters also let screenwriter Boal make some offhanded moral observations, while the film's central commentary on the inhumanity of the situation reflects in the alien landscapes and culture. In this time and place, it's impossible to treat a stranger as a person.

Bigelow catches all of this with a jittering, doc style of filmmaking. The film is essentially a series of set pieces, and each one is packed with nerve-jangling suspense and an unpredictability that adds to the authenticity.

Bullets are silent and sudden, explosions are dusty rather than fiery, and most of the scenes are so still and silent that we can hardly bear the suspense. But what makes the film even more important is the through-line that gently examines how these men are coping with all of this. Their intense focus on their work is inspiring. And their emotional devastation is terrifying.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : , Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier,

Comments

The Hurt Locker Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 15, 2009

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