Film & TV

The Hurt Locker

200px-HLposterUSA2Rating: MA 15+

Running time: 151 minutes

Release date: 25 February 2010

The Hurt Locker follows the efforts of a US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team during the Iraq war.  Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) joins the EOD unit with the Bravo Company as a replacement for Staff Sergeant Thompson (Guy Pearce) who was killed by a remote detonanted improvised device (IED) in Baghdad.  He joins Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) who provide protection to James through surveillance, communication and rifle cover when he examines IED’s. However James makes a less than impressive start with his team considering him a reckless risk taker who fear not just for his safety but their own. All three have different psychological make up and ways of coping with the daily life and death decisions based on gut instincts.  These differences just add to the rising tensions between them as does the threat of insurgency.

Jeremy Renner performance is outstanding conveying so much more raw emotion through his physicality rather than the meagre dialogue.  Filmed in Jordan close to the Iraqi border helps in giving this film authenticity in look which is well supported by cinematographer Barry Ackroyd.  The desert and oppressive heat are clearly brought to life and scenes are filmed from multiple prespectives and point of view shots which enhances the high tension and buildup with a degree of voyeurism. 

What probably works most for Kathryn Bigelow’s direction is that it is like no other portrayal of the Iraq war done to date.  Written by Mark Boal a freelance journalist who had first hand accounts being embedded with an EOD team.  This is a fictional retelling of real events.  It works in that it just shows the day to day experiences of soldiers on the ground.  No sensationalising no statistics it comes off as being an honest account however there have been numerous blogs by ex soldiers to the contrary.  There is no moralising we are left to make our own interepretation aside from the opening quote from New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug”. But not everyone gets addicted!

4/5 stars.  Nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture its one not to miss

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