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The Hurt Locker

2010-03-26 08:27
 
Just when we thought war movies had been reduced to a collection of clichés, this subtle, suspenseful movie breathes fresh life into the genre.
The Hurt Locker

What it's about:

Sergeant First Class Will James (Jeremy Renner) joins a bomb disposal unit in Baghdad in the post-invasion days of the Iraq War. His reckless methods cause him to clash with the other members of his team as they count down the last days of their duty rotation.

What we thought:

I used to think that war movies were a polarizing genre: you either like them or you don’t. Many people are put off by their bravado and glorification of violence. But then a work like The Hurt Locker comes along and blurs all those lines and distinctions. The danger is that the movie never really finds a big audience – and that seems to be the fate of this film, being the lowest-grossing Best Picture Oscar winner ever. But if you give the film a little concentration and patience, the rewards are immense – for just about any viewer.

The plot line is simple: Bravo Company, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in Iraq, gets a new team leader. Sergeant James, a risk-taking cowboy of a technician, also happens to be supremely good at what he does – which is defusing bombs and not getting blown up. His behaviour puts him at odds with his unit, who just want to survive the remaining days in their tour of duty.

The film relies far more on suspense than action: the agonizing minutes that pass while Sgt James fiddles with an IED (improvised explosive device), sweating it out in a bomb suit in the blazing desert sun, keep your heart in your mouth for much of the ride. This is when the film truly shows its mastery: where story, camerawork, sound design and editing come together to evoke the constant near-panic sense of being in a war zone where your enemies are almost impossible to identify. After such high-stakes anxiety, their adrenaline-drenched relief upon returning to safety makes it easy to understand the opening quote: "War is a drug".

The relatively unknown Jeremy Renner does outstanding work as Sgt. James. His swaggering, combat-addicted persona hides the insecurities of a man who has forgotten how to function in the normal world, and this heartbreaking undercurrent belies his machismo enough to make him a sympathetic character. In keeping with films like Jarhead, the soldiers in The Hurt Locker are scared, brash, and fallible, as well as being gutsy – in short, they’re human.

A lot has been said about a female director helming a film so emphatically masculine. It almost certainly had something to do with Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director Oscar win. And perhaps some of the film’s most touching moments – a shared box of juice, horsing around with an Iraqi kid, a supermarket aisle full of cereal – do owe some debt to a feminine sensibility. All I know is that it makes me happy to live in a world where a director, man or woman, can make a film so thoroughly ass-kicking and affecting at the same time.

The Hurt Locker has earned its accolades, and is likely to linger with you for some time. It manages to take the best bits of other films – the sniper scene from Full Metal Jacket, the after-hours bonding of Platoon, the scared soldiers of Saving Private Ryan, the struggle with the civilian world of Beau Travail, the Colonel Kilgore character from Apocalypse Now – and blends them into an intelligent work that transcends the genre. It deserves a much bigger audience than it’s going to get – which means it’s something you ought to see.


NEXT ON CHANNEL24X

The Giver

2014-09-05 07:52

Add Your Review

(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
jason 3/26/2010 7:52 AM
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But its so easy to avoid the "hurt locker". Yankees must get out of other ppl countries and stop stealing there oil. LOL. That'll be good movie.
Dewald 3/26/2010 9:03 AM
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This must be the worst movie I have ever seen!! I'm amazed that any one outside the US gives is any rating. I'll rather be watching CBeebies!!
Amway 3/26/2010 9:14 AM
An exceptionally crafted film, yet the plot is wholly divorces from reality. Film-making (exceptional film-making at that) but not real story telling.
marco 3/26/2010 10:37 AM
Saw it on Thursday. Cool movie, but miles behind Platoon, Full Metal Jacket or Black Hawk Down. (District 9 was way more entertaining and a better story). Best picture and director should have gone to James Cameron and Avatar.
desert dude 3/26/2010 11:34 AM
This movie is not Oscar material.
Frank 3/26/2010 1:12 PM
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I thought it was brilliant. Much better acting and characters than Avatar.
Jaco 3/26/2010 8:48 PM
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This was a well-written and informative review, thank you! Note to jason - Care about your grammar first before telling the Yankees what or what not to do.
Annie 3/27/2010 10:28 PM
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I enjoyed every minute of this movie. I was sitting tensed from the 1st to the last movement of the picture. How anyone can say it is the "worst movie ever", is ridiculous. It is wonderfully made and the emotions and "pain" that soldiers all over the world are going through, are portrayed in this one movie. People might think it is all about USA soldiers and the war in Iraq. It is about all soldiers and all the people being affected by it. I give this movie 200% and 5 stars.
Mike 3/28/2010 1:48 PM
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One of the most boring movies ever... Always America against the world. Yawn....
Bra G 3/28/2010 5:22 PM
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I thought "The Hurt Locker" portrayed the tension of war and particulary the bomb disposal unit with accuracy and great attention to detail. War what is it good for? Absolutley nothing!
Werner 3/29/2010 2:52 PM
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Best movie of the year. No doubt
PERSHEN GOVENDER 3/30/2010 7:20 AM
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Iraq pick up line : "I am taliban blow me "
Simon 3/30/2010 12:34 PM
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It was pretty good, but boring at the same time and not Oscar worthy. You keep waiting for something to happen but it just plods along till the credits.
Tango 3/30/2010 12:53 PM
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I thought it was brilliant. A different type of war movie. I generally loathe them but Hurt Locker dishes up something else.
Christine 3/30/2010 2:48 PM
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What a boring movie, would have done better to go and see "The Blindside"
Barry M 3/30/2010 3:25 PM
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If you found this movie boring then you are brain-dead deluxe - this is an awesome movie and well deserves every award it got!
PatcheS 3/30/2010 6:31 PM
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@Barry, if you are allowed to say the film was "awesome", then other people are allowed to say it wasn't. Just because you have an opinion, it does not mean it is right.
Anon 3/31/2010 12:34 PM
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Avatar was the weakest of the Best Picture nominee's (in story, tone and character). Hurt locker, it never really elevates its pace and thats why it is AMAZING. Putting the violence in the same tone as the mundane - genius. Although if you want to pay attention to the vanity awards known as the Academy Awards "Up in the Air" is the Best Film.
Paul 4/3/2010 9:29 AM
Best Picture should have gone to Inglorious Bastards. I love war movies but this movie felt like Ground Hog Day.The acting and scenes were good,but the storyline was flat,and told in the first 15 minutes of the movie. The suspense was not gripping at all. And @ Marco District 9 was an embarrassment to SA movies. What a load of crap!!!
CraigMac 4/14/2010 8:27 AM
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This was a good film but by no means worthy of the Best Picture Oscar. Avatar and The Blind Side were much more deserving than The Hurt Locker.
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