Tuesday, February 02, 2010

THE HURT LOCKER: Edge-of-Seat Suspenser

THE HURT LOCKER (war drama)
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Evangeline Lilly, Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce and Christian Camargo
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Screenplay: Mark Boal
Time: 130 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: This movie definitely looks like a strong contender for the Oscars, given its awards from the Director's Guild (for Kathryn Bigelow) and the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Critics' Choice Award) for the film. Its biggest rival is Avatar, directed by Bigelow's ex-husband, James Cameron.

The Hurt Locker had actually been 'locked-up' for a while. It was picked up at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival by Summit Entertainment for US distribution. It is just too bad that The Hurt Locker is not scheduled to be shown in Malaysia. Still, this review is for the benefit of those looking to get the film on DVD.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT? The film is mainly about Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner, pictured), a reckless and sometimes 'dazed' bomb disposal expert who joins Delta Company, a US Explosive Ordinance Disposal squad in Iraq after the demise of its commander.

The other members of the squad are Sgt J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), a by-the-book soldier, and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), who is counting down the days until the tour of duty is over. And yes, James collects 'souvenirs' from his work for his locker - stuff that could have killed him instantly, hence the title, Hurt

HITS & MISSES: Where suspense and tension are concerned, they are hard to miss when one is doing a movie about a bomb disposal squad in Baghdad (filmed in Jordan, actually) during the American invasion. Most of the time, we would be on the edge of our seats as James and his squad not only diffuses bombs but also get involved in sniper shootouts, and with the local insurgents. There are seven high-octane set pieces and Bigelow rolls from one to the next with only brief pauses for character interactions.

War is a drug, we are told at the beginning of the film. And if that is true, James is an addict. In fact he gets his high from taking chances in his work so much that he is at a loss when he is back home with his wife (Evangeline Lilly) and family. And as he flirts from one death-defying job to another, we also become action suspense junkies.

Indeed, Bigelow's film is a war action film pure and simple. There are no messages, no politics, no morals. Just life-and-death action.

THE LOWDOWN: A must for those interested in the Oscar Awards.


At 3:08 pm, Blogger Arivind Abraham said...

This film was the best thing of 2009 alongside "Let The Right One In". The casting of Jeremy Renner was genius, getting an actor with no baggage to portray a character with so much baggage.

And you're right, it's not a war movie, it's not a political movie, it's an action movie, in fact almost a documentary as it's not afraid to show the really boring bits of being at war, alongside all the adrenalin.

Really happy she won at the DGA and hoping they sweep up at the Oscars.

At 9:59 pm, Blogger McGarmott said...

Hmm, I guess I should explain why I didn't like it.

So I hear it's a suspenseful, realistic look about soldiers in charge of bomb disposals in Iraq. That shouldn't take away from the suspense too much, right?

Instead, I found myself bored with the episodic nature of the story. Nothing is tense, because Jeremy Renner's character simply doesn't seem to care much about his life ... I suppose it matters to him just a little whether he dies or doesn't die at any one mission, but I certainly didn't care, and so, no suspense, no tension. He's just an annoying dick who's destroying his colleagues' job satisfaction, and so totally selfish with his devotion to that boy who might or might not be murdered. There's certainly not much action going on. I'd be peeved if it wins even a single award at the Oscars.

(Oh, and the same goes for Up In The Air too.)

At 7:34 pm, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

Wow, what a great discussion! Arivind, by now, you would know I preferred Avatar (4 stars) to Hurt (3.5). But the suspense in HL is addictive. Sebastian is right too. If he doesn't care for the protag, then he is just annoying (as I find him to be in some scenes too).

At 2:43 pm, Blogger Arivind Abraham said...

And my thoughts on Avatar are well encapsulated in this 2 part video review:


At 3:02 pm, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

Thanks, Arivind. I will read your Avatar stuff again.


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