Beyond war movie and beyond another critically acclaimed movie, The Hurt Locker is the living definition of thriller. Rare is it that I find a movie that has me breathing unevenly whilst gripping my seat wondering what could happen next. The direction is simple but brilliant in it’s own right, the acting is compelling and the reality of the so-called “War on Terror” is very real. Director Kathryn Bigelow gets it when it comes to keeping the audience centered on the important things and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future. Before writing the plot summary I must warn you that this movie is better enjoyed by going into it blindly. The less you know of what you will experience the more immersed you will be in the story. I will attempt to avoid spoilers and any real breakdown of what occurs within this wonderful movie but if you want to truly enjoy The Hurt Locker I urge you to skip my next paragraph within this review.
Plot/Summary: The Hurt Locker is a situation set within the Middle East where American soldiers are forced to find and disarm bombs within the inner city. Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) have a little over a month before the next rotation frees them from their duty. Although the two men eagerly count down the days to escaping the dry and thankless desert, their comrade and leader in Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) sees things differently. Battle-hardened, with a hard-on for disarming bombs, James seems to laugh at death and his recklessness alienates him from his peers. However after a few outings the three comrades reach a level of understanding and James emerges as a leader that is much more than a cowboy looking for death.
The most stand-out acting in this movie has to be that of the complicated Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner). Not only is he believable but he forces you into his world of chaos, confusion, honor and love. Between he and Anthony Mackie’s Sanborn you are made to feel sympathetic and remorseful to the plight that they are in. Although the movie seemed short, within seconds you are concerned for every single character. The bomb situations are limited but within every single one of them you are holding your breath in anticipation and fright. The cinematography did not look or feel staged and the eery music brings you right into the hopelessness of the jobs these men had to do. Written by Mark Boal, the script felt real, it felt as if it was “a day in the life of…”, with pacing that was relevant and not contrived. There were no forced romances, friendships or atrocities to pull at your heart strings, the events are so seamless that it feels as if there was an invisible “other” with a camcorder shooting the lives of real men.
Sure you may need to look elsewhere if you are wanting another movie of “guts or glory”, Rambo-like, one man against the world warfare. But if you want something that feels real, looks real and warrants intelligent thought, you will want to see the Hurt Locker. An absolutely amazing movie.