The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker (2008)
★★★★ / ★★★★

“The Hurt Locker,” directed by Kathryn Bigelow, focuses on a crew called the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty) as they try to dismantle bombs in Iraq in 2004. This film shook me in so many ways. Right from the very first scene until the very last, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen and I couldn’t help yelling “Hurry up!” at the characters because I had no idea what was going to happen next. Bigelow had an uncanny ability to make the environment as threatening as possible; when Renner was on the process of stopping a bomb from going off, the camera would quickly shift and focus on random onlookers and there were times when one of them had the remote that could trigger the bomb. The way she combined and balanced the soundtrack, the images, the dialogues and the camera movements was inspired because, unlike other films about Iraq, all the varying elements came together to make something almost tragically poetic. Even though this picture was set in Iraq, I hardly think it’s another one of “those” movies about the war. It was essentially a story of survival–how the three men coped when put in life-threatening circumstances. But it’s not just about the physical survival. It was also about what was happening in their minds as they got closer to ending their rotation: one was a risk-taker, one succumbed to fear and one put up a false front of courage. Another element that I loved about this movie was it did not repeat itself. Each action scene was very different from each other so we would not know what to expect. Some definite highlights include the snipers from 350 meters away (with Ralph Fiennes making an appearance), the first nail-biter scene with Guy Pearce, when the three leads took different alleys after a suicide bomber killed and injured innocent people in the middle of the night, and the horrific scene that involved a bomb being attached to man. I also liked the fact that Bigelow took her film to the next level by using contrasting images when one of the three main characters returned to the United States. I never thought I would experience so much sadness by looking at rows and rows of cereal boxes. Having not been in the battlefield, I often forget how much I’m surrounded by excess. In other words, I forget how lucky I am to not be out there. “The Hurt Locker” is a tremendous, first-rate dramatic-thriller film and I believe it deserves every recognition it received. I may not support the war in Iraq but there is no doubt in my mind and in my heart that I support our soldiers who are there (despite some of their negative portrayals in the media). It’s been a while since I felt so much tension in my body and adrenaline running through my veins as I did from watching “The Hurt Locker.”

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