The Hurt Locker
Cast includes: Jeremy Renner (S.W.A.T.), Anthony Mackie (Freedomland), Brian Geraghty (I Know Who Killed Me)
Director: Katherine Bigelow (Point Break)
Genre: Iraq war drama
In brief: The three-person Army bomb squad we meet at the beginning of the movie is a tight-knit professional team. On this particular day, they are sending a bot (aka: robot) to put a detonation charge on an IED. When there’s a problem, team leader Thompson suits up to place the charge himself. But it’s a trap, and Thompson is killed when a bystander detonates the bomb with a cell phone. With only 38 days left in Bravo Company’s rotation, the team gets a new leader, William James. James is nothing like Thompson. For starters, he’s fearless… never using the bot, always going right into even the most dangerous situations. Is he a hero or just a wild man? He has disarmed 873 bombs so far, but everyday is a crap shoot and he’s putting his team at risk, too.
Team members Sanborn and Eldridge wonder if they can stay alive under the leadership of this adrenalin junkie. Eldridge sees the company shrink from time to time… “Dr. Be-all-that-you-can-be… What if all I can be is dead on the side of a road?” The shrink tells Eldridge that, “this doesn’t have to be a bad time in your life.” Eldridge tells him he needs to “come out from behind the wire and see what we do.” It’s easy to understand why Eldridge is so edgy and why Sanborn is so careful. IEDs, suicide bombers and enemies are everywhere… just mixed in with the rubble and the general population. What’s difficult to understand is why James is so reckless. Is he addicted to playing the hero, is he numb, or has he just not met the situation that will make an impression?
A former war correspondent once said, “War is a drug.” And that may explain its addiction as well as its destructive power. Unlike most war movies, The Hurt Locker doesn’t show us soldiers trying to achieve a large tactical objective in order to advance a strategy. The objective is to stay alive so they can go out the next day and try and stay alive again. Shot mostly in documentary hand-held style, it gives us a perspective we rarely see. It tells a powerful story and makes us care about the characters and the mission. It would be a first-rate adventure story if it weren’t so deadly real and so powerful.
4 popped kernels
Heart-stopping suspense, great war footage, good story and interesting characters
Primary Audience: Young adults
Gender Appeal: Macho
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Neither upbeat nor somber
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Timely topic