Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Hurt Locker - Mini-review

Over the last years, I have avoided most movies about Iraq. This summer, I started hearing buzz about the film The Hurt Locker that grew and grew. The buzz centered on the director of the film, Kathryn Bigelow, who is almost certain to garner a best director Oscar nod. I have never seen her work before, but she is known for action films going back to Point Break with Keanu Reeves. My husband read about the film, too, and maybe I was just finally ready to see a movie about the war. The film slowly went from very limited release to reach us in the 'burbs.

This is an amazing film, and I am so glad I overcame my thing about Iraq war films to go see it. It is so filled with suspense that I was on the edge of my seat nearly the entire time, but there are no cheap tricks as you would find in a regular Hollywood film. The Hurt Locker is about a very elite unit that defuses roadside bombs in Iraq. They get a new member of their crew, Sgt. James, and he is both very, very good at diffusing bombs, and also an incredible risk taker. The other members of the crew are counting down the days until they can go home, and terrified every time they have to face another day under fire, but Sgt. James seems to live for the adrenaline rush and the danger.

The main characters in the film are played by mostly unknowns. Jeremy Renner who plays Sgt. James has done some other films and TV work, but he was new to me, so I was completely absorbed by the story. He is excellent, and I expect we'll be seeing more great roles for him. A few key supporting characters are played by bigger names like Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes as a special ops guy. It all feels extraordinarily real, as the filming was done in Jordan. You could not replicate the kind of atmosphere for those street scenes on a studio set, and many of the extras are played by Iraqi refugees.

Everyone should see this film. Just as an action movie, it has enough to satifsy, but it is more, much more. It's very interesting to me that a woman director has made such an insightful movie about male soldiers, with very few female characters in it. Bigelow is an amazing director, and I hope she wins the best Oscar for directing. It's that good. Four stars!!

Watch the opening minutes of this fantastic film to get a sense of what I'm talking about. This is not a film to be missed. You will be hearing about this film come Oscar season, mark my words.

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