Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review - The Hurt Locker (2008)

“There's enough bang in there to blow us all to Jesus. If I'm gonna die, I want to die comfortable.”

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
Screenplay: Mark Boal

Plot: An elite Army bomb squad unit is stationed at Camp Victory in Iraq where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb. As days count down to the end of their rotation the introduction of SSG William James increases the risk for all those around.

It’s taken a while but finally The Hurt Locker is playing in Australia and in time for the Oscars as well. With all this in mind I can see why this movie is generating the buzz and the awards at the moment. What Kathryn Bigelow has produced is a movie with meaning and a message, yet it isn’t buried thanks to that. It’s allowed to breathe and operate like a tense action/thriller and yet if people care too then they can go deeper.

William James (Jeremy Renner) is a very interesting character and one that could be classed as the hero and the villain of the movie. He is an adrenaline junkie that can cause trouble for those around him, and yet while he seems to be an uncaring bastard there are small things that come out during the movie. What we really have is a character at odds with himself. Jeremy Renner is able to play both sides of the character perfectly and I honestly can’t think of anyone else in the role. If this character wasn’t successful then there would have been no hope for the film as William James is the soul.

The setting is a unique one as any movie set in Iraq could be very politically charged, however in a genius move the people are in the background, sure there are insurgents but they are not the only ones. On both sides there is no real need to paint one side good and bad; they are all just people in one of the worst situations you can imagine. One of the strongest ideas in this movie is that this is not a war movie, it just takes place during a war and because of that it doesn’t fall into preachy territory. This is an action thriller with the action being the highlight. Each action scene is a lesson in tension, the message comes through how people react and honestly Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal show us rather than tell us the important parts. It’s a lesson many directors and writers have forgotten.

Look wise this movie really does capture a country that is downtrodden by many factors. It’s beautiful in a way and suits the atmosphere of the movie. Trash is strewn down streets all of which can be hiding a bomb, there is a sense of heat that can’t be escaped, and except at some key points there seems to be no green as if it’s all burnt away. It’s an atmosphere that enhances the action scenes and like her movies before one the Bigelow uses to the most effect.

In the main character we have a message and yet you can just discard this and enjoy an awesome movie. It works on both levels and Kathryn Bigelow has really crafted a movie that is deserving of all the praise it is receiving. Go see this movie if you want to see how a great film is made.


  1. A film that I wanted to see in the theaters and totally missed based on my travel schedule. Nice review, rat! This makes me want to see it even more and hopefully the Academy will give this film its just dessert.

  2. Thank you for the kind words Geof. I was lucky to catch this as it was scheduled for just a DVD release in Australia. I'm hoping it does well at the Oscars as well. Avawhat?