The Hurt Locker Review

by Ed Lau on July 30, 2009

The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie

The trailer for this film is a bit deceiving. If you’re really coming in expecting a Hollywood action film, you may either be disappointed or pleasantly surprised. The fact of the matter is The Hurt Locker isn’t really about the action, despite the fact that there are thrilling action sequences throughout the two hour runtime. The hero isn’t walking away from explosions without looking nor is he diving for cover yelling “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” while flames engulf the background. There isn’t much true star power here although you’ll see small parts played by Ralph Fiennes and Evangeline Lily.

The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie

Instead, this Iraq war film is about Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner), a bomb squad specialist with over 800 IED and makeshift explosive disarms under his belt, and his addiction to war. “war is a drug” states the opening line and it becomes apparent very early that James is more about defusing the bomb than anything else. He doesn’t spout any heroic lines nor does he give any reasons for so zealously doing what he does other than the fact that he seems to enjoy it. After an early defuse, James lights up a cigarette with an expression of satisfaction much like a man that has just, well, enjoyed himself greatly. He’s an unapologetic adrenaline junkie that chases after the thrill.

The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie

Playing the Iceman to James’ Maverick is Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), a soldier charged with protecting the bomb specialists by sweeping areas of snipers and generally watching James’ back. Sanborn is a by-the-book sort of soldier and often finds himself caught up in the torrent that James’ has somewhat created for himself. James is reckless but he is also skilled and he operates with explosives as precisely as a conductor of an orchestra, finding triggers and firing pins hidden in piles of rubble that would probably escape the eye of someone slightly less observant.

The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie

The Hurt Locker is a very lean film with little stylization or fancy Hollywood effects. Instead, we get a very raw, visceral depiction of the war in Iraq as it probably still goes on today. Quick zooms from shaky, hand-held cameras get us up close to the action. This isn’t the say the cinematography isn’t gorgeous, though, as the film makes careful use of things like slow motion and high speed film that other action movies use liberally and…less effectively. There is very, very little music for the entire duration which I love as it treats us to a different symphony. The sounds supports the incredible tension the audience feels with this film. As James works on a bomb, you hear nothing but his laboured breathing…and it is intense. You’re not going to get the “MOAR EXPLOSIONS!!!!” of a Michael Bay film but the suspense you get in The Hurt Locker is matched by very few films. Director Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t play around with us but knows exactly how to keep us on the edge of our seats.

The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie

There’s no goofy technical gargon here. There isn’t even a “bad guy” to be seen anywhere. “The Bomb” isn’t even the antagonist in the way that “The Fire” is in Backdraft and perhaps the lack of focus will throw off a few viewers. The characters have little to say and there’s no lengthy soliloquy or voiceover to guide the viewer to what the film has to say but if you listen and pieces the bits and pieces together, you’ll realize that The Hurt Locker has a lot to say about the state of mind for soldiers and the price men pay for war.

Verdict: 9.0 out of 10

in Current Events,Entertainment

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Make money And blogging tips July 31, 2009 at 6:27 pm

this is good movie . i am sure lot of people will wait for this

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Termite Control August 1, 2009 at 2:24 am

I really wanna she this film. Its would be very nice.

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jay @ work at home August 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

Hmmm…..haven’t seen this film just yet, however, it does look interesting. I’m not a big fan of war films, but it looks like something to watch over time. Thanks for bringing this film up. I have something to watch now.

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Nomar August 2, 2009 at 1:59 am

Ed, this movie looks like a great one, definitely keeping my eyes open if i see it somewhere! I want to watch it :D

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Sue | Used Cars August 2, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Hey there Ed, hope you keeping well !!! Thanks for the great review on this movie, I can’t remember when last I have seen a movie on the big screen, I think that my other half will really enjoy this, and this with action and guns then he is there.

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Free Reminder August 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Employing handheld cameras and very little music, Bigelow creates a claustrophobic and palpably dangerous environment in which one mistake could prove disastrous. If The Hurt Locker doesn’t capture what it’s like to serve or live in Iraq, no film ever will.

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Ed Lau August 3, 2009 at 4:18 pm

@Free Reminder:
Are you Kansas City Star critic Robert Butler?

http://www.kansascity.com/710/story/1340339.html

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Michael Kwan March 7, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Haha.

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promotional items coasters August 3, 2009 at 10:08 pm

The flick seems very interesting as you said that it is based on Iraq war now i look forward to see it.

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