24 February 2010

The Hurt Locker

Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Ralph Fiennes

Mark Boal

Kathryn Bigelow

26 June 2009

Summit, 131 mins., Rated R

Oh boy, I wouldn't want their job. But it makes for a thrilling movie, no less. Thank God for all the major amount of attention given to this little flick, or else I wouldn't have given it a shot. Me and war movies aren't Facebook friends. I dig Saving Private Ryan (the movie universally held as one of the best eva) and Jarhead (a title I doubt will be on many peoples list), and not much else. Well, now this. Aside from being a good war movie, it accomplishes two other things: it's definitely the best flick based in Iraq to date, and it creates a sense of realistic comradery between the three teammates (even though they made be at odds), which makes every outing, sequence, and bomb defusing rife with hands-clenching tension.

The only bad part is that the movie relies so much on the energy and tension of the Iraqi excursions, that there really isn't much of a plot.

Staff Sergeant William James (Renner) becomes team leader of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team. Basically, defusing bombs so they don't go KA-BOOM! His teammates Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Geraghty) become a little uneasy with James' tactics: care-free, reckless, disregarding a little thing called rules, and basically begging to be killed, this creates a riff in their friendship. The film follows the team's tour in Iraq as they stop potential BOOMS, reflect upon their lives in America and the people they've left behind, face life and death situations, and try to work together as a team.

Notes & Reflections
Eh, that plot sum-up probably sucks. Here's the nitty gritty: the movie's main function is showing the EOD team doing what they do best. And at that, it exceeds with flying colors.

The tension and sense of dread this movie is able to conjure is unnerving. Every bomb defusing situation is friggin' intense. The very idea that any person with a cellphone could be the trigger of a bomb that might very well kill you. Wowage. Perfectly brought to life by the opening sequence, and the first time James goes out in the field with Sanborn and Eldridge.

Renner, Mackie, and Geraghty are bloody fantastic, and they absolutely make this movie. No amount of rapid-heartbeat moments of bomb defusing sequences would even mean anything if it wasn't for these three leads meshing so effortlessly. James, the main centerfold of the movie, is brilliantly realized by Jeremy Renner (28 Weeks Later). Cocky, but not to the extent he becomes instantly unlikable for his annoyingness. Mackie playing the soldier petrified that today might be the day he dies. His role I wasn't completely sold on; it's interesting to have a nice contrast to James, who seems to be more reckless than anyone else on the team, but his character sorta rings as false. Geraghty is the Seargent Doakes of the team [sorry about the Dexter reference; it's just that the Ice Truck Killer from season 1 is in the film for, like, 10 minutes, so I felt obligated], direct the point, and one pissed off dude.

Director Kathryn Bigelow goes the hand-held route, as most war directors do in order to transport the audience into the 'now' situation. Luckily, the hand-held isn't sloppy, meaning it's not going all over the place directionless. And she has quite a few nifty angels for coverage, which help sell intense, 'Holy crap (!), what's gonna happen?' scenes.

The script is the weak part, but hardly anyone's going to notice because they're so caught up with the movie. Which is OK. It's a testament to how well The Hurt Locker is acted, filmed, and edited - all three divisions where the movie excels greatly. To make some sort of drama that isn't manufactured by the situation, there's a subplot with James believing a young boy that's he's encountered a few times and is sorta fond of is dead, and sets out on a solo mission to find the killer. It's interesting to watch, and the scene where he finds a young boy's body is moving and equally interesting, as his reactions to situations is mesmerizing.

Surprisingly, the best part of the script is the final 10 minutes, when James comes home to his gal and child, and finds it more foreign to him than the land he fought on. It's a chilling, poignant, depressing, dark, real moment that elicits more of a 'wow, woah' moment from me than anything else from the movie. I believe with some direction with the script, with some sort of idea as to what they wanted to 'say' with the movie aside from creating heightened drama, The Hurt Locker would definitely be a powerful movie to be reckoned with.

Considering how much attention Hurt Locker's been getting, and the innumerable reviews out there, I won't go further into it, but I'll just say it was enjoyable, and whatever the next war movie that comes out...well, it'll have one hell of a flick to surpass.

Awesome Scene of Awesomeness (Spoilers)
William, Sanborn and Eldridge are called to a exposed location with a car armed with explosives. They watch as time goes by, and William is unable to find the source to sever the connection, and the public starts to watch with interest - which makes controlling the scene more and more difficult. As the increasing number of people could potentially blow the car at any minute, and kill all three of them in the process, Sergeant William James breaks the car apart to find the source...and time is running out.

Final Verdiction
Pretty damn good movie. Visually stunning, awesome cast, tightly edited. I'd say this could nearly pass as a documentary, it's so well pulled together, and the actors are that comfortable with each other. The lack of direction in the script is a bummer, but what The Hurt Locker does so well at far exceeds any lacking in the script department. It's a thrilling movie full of drama, intensity, and fun characters. The final line is that Hurt Locker is worth the hype, and definitely needs to be seen.


Castor said...

Glad you loved it! It really keeps on the edge of your seat. I'm only disappointed because it's quite unrealistic in terms of military situations and behaviors. Most of those situations would not happen in real life.

A.P. Simon said...

That's the beauty of movies like THE HURT LOCKER - those special type of flicks that keep you so engrossed in the characters and their constant predicaments, that the reality of the situation is hardly even thought upon because you're so completely in the 'now'. At least it's that way for me - another bloke could be enjoying the flick whilst nitpicking the hell outta it.

Now I gotta find a way to see A SERIOUS MAN, the OTHER much-acclaimed 'Best Movie of 2009.'