Monday, February 28, 2011

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker; war drama, USA, 2008; D: Kathryn Bigelow, S: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes

Iraq War. After Staff Seargent Thompson dies while trying to deactivate a bomb, William James is brought to the US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal. He is a true professional who already deactivated over 800 bombs and this jobs gives him the excitement he wants. He deactivates bombs in cars or buried in the sand, yet his "hot-shot" behavior draws criticism from his colleagues. James witnesses an Iraqi boy getting killed. He returns to his wife and their child in the US, but then goes right back to Iraq because this is the thing he loves.

Three great sequences in a row that appear right from the start, all involving deactivating a bomb - Thompson trying to deactivate an explosive device; James finding seven explosive devices buried in sand by pulling the wire connected to both of them; James ripping seats apart in order to find the bomb in a car while the soldiers are nervously looking at people observing the event from the buildings, fearing one of them might just trigger it any moment with his cell phone - are virtuoso directed and have a great sense of intensity which slowly reaches almost Hitchcock's calibre. Somewhere towards the end, there is also a very good detail where a soldier walks 100 yards away from a burning truck that went off in flames, stops when he spots undamaged leaves on a tree and says: "This is the edge of the blast radius". The remainder of "The Hurt Locker" is also good, but, especially in the second half, somehow too grey, sterile and without any emotional attachment since only the main hero is sufficiently developed, while all other characters are either one-dimensional or unmemorable. This story didn't represent any political agenda because director Kathryn Bigelow basically delivered a well directed action movie, except maybe in the ending where it suggests that the war gives that excitement that people like James need.


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