Now the winner of the Academy Award for Best Director, Best Picture, and four other Oscars, and already the winner of countless independent film awards, “The Hurt Locker” is a taut, well-crafted, and somewhat depressing account of an explosive ordnance disposal squad in the Middle East. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this depiction of three G.I.’s follows them during the end of their rotation in the nightmarish desert towns of Iraq.
Shortly after losing their squad leader, Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie—“Eagle Eye”) and Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty—“Jarhead”) are joined by the newly arrived First Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner—“S.W.A.T.”), whose modus operandi is in direct contrast with the man that he replaced.
James wades into the thickest situations, disarming bombs because he has to, because he wants to, and even when he doesn’t need to. Unfortunately, the rest of the squad needs to back him up as he’s doing this, putting them in further and often unnecessary danger.
The squad moves from call to call, delving down nightmarish alleyways, searching for hidden IED’s amidst trash-strewn Iraqi streets, and holding holed-up snipers at bay. Every face is that of a potential enemy and every cell phone could be the detonator to the next bomb.
Bigelow soaks this film with tension; it’s like sitting on the edge of a cliff and having a picnic with a psychopath while there’s a stiff wind at your back.
But as nerve-wracking and borderline dismal as this film is, it is not without its humorous content. In one scene amidst the desert dunes, the squad happens across a team of bounty hunters who have lost their wrench in the sand after throwing it at their escaped quarry. Sanborn then playfully instructs them: “You know you can shoot people out here. You don’t have to throw wrenches.”
This humor is always short-lived, however, and one is plunged back into the horrifying reality of a region of the world gone mad. Sanborn and Eldridge are both painfully aware of the insanity; James, on the other hand, is a part of it.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee said during the Battle of Fredericksburg, “It is well that war is so terrible, [lest] we should grow too fond of it.”
Sergeant James may be intent to defy that notion in every careless move he makes. But for the viewer, it is difficult not to take General Lee’s words to heart. The “glory” and “honor” of war are swallowed up by the pain, hatred, misery, and constant fear that make “The Hurt Locker” a film that one does not have to be
a devotee of the action or war genres in order to appreciate.
See what all the fuss is about and pick up a copy of this movie at any central Illinois Blockbuster, Family Video, or Redbox locations.
Ammo Dump rating: 10 IED’s all wired together
(Rated R; 131 min.)
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