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The Hurt Locker (2009)

A 2009 movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

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A ballet of realism and delusion; a masterpiece!

  • Mar 8, 2010
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Every year there comes a little film that blows audience and critic alike out of their seat. These movies are often unheard of until a viewer sees the first theatrical trailer, or is told by a friend that they should give it a try.

For 2009 that little film was the Iraq set military drama entitled `The Hurt Locker' directed by Kathryn Bigelow (ex-spouse of the infamously hard-headed, yet incredibly profitable special effects director, James Cameron who this same year broke his own record set by Titanic in 1997 with his 3D eye candy Avatar). This film about a SSG William James (marvelously portrayed by Jeremy Renner) is a war film unlike any to be made before it.

Sergeant First Class William James is out of place in Iraq. He is a rebel in a system that requires precision as well as cooperation. Perceived as a lone wolf with a death wish James suits up each day and constantly berates the advice and orders of those around him. For William James this isn't a job: it's his life. He doesn't fear dying in a ball of flame because that's what gets him off. James has developed a truly unique addiction as his squad mates soon discover.

William James is addicted to adrenaline; the thrill of knowing that at any moment he could be scattered in a thousand different places.

Naturally this film contains multiple teeth chattering moments involving bomb diffusion, but I'm actually hesitant to call this masterpiece a "war film" because war surprisingly has little to do with the plot of the film. Never once does this film decide to preach about moral of troops, brotherhood amongst soldiers, or even the politics behind the controversial war in Iraq. `The Hurt Locker' is 100% self-contained and finely focused on its protagonist with Iraq being treated as the backdrop; no more, no less. In my opinion a "war film" will focus on those issues, but The Hurt Locker doesn't even seem to acknowledge those archetypes.

Bigelow directs the film in a manner that only a woman could possibly manage. Gritty and dark, yet on the same time lapsing into what is clearly fiction The Hurt Locker is a delicate ballet of a constantly changing perspective. While at times it strives for realism at others it will lapse into action movie style themes...but this is in no way a flaw with this movie. The way I see this is that William James is an addict to adrenaline and the army is his dealer. What the audience sees is war from the addict's point of view which of course makes war out almost as if it were a fantasy for James...except for the occasionally lapses in his addiction when he is forced to face the reality of his situation.

Needless to say, this talented woman has come a LONG way since working with Keeanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in Point Break.

The pacing of The Hurt Locker is almost like the beating of a heart, which meshes well with the nerve rattling subject matter. Bigelow pulls every string to make the style of this film mix with its subject material while at the same time allowing it to become an enjoyable action peace with some of the most suspenseful scenes in the history of cinema.

Already many people are complaining about the realism of this movie; choosing to compare it to films such as `Black Hawk Down', `Saving Private Ryan', and even `Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket'. Not surprisingly the people who try comparing The Hurt Locker to these Grade-A war films is like comparing apples to...watermelons. It is absurd to compare The Hurt Locker to actual war films because The Hurt Locker belongs in an entirely separate genre.

While those films are directly relating to war (politics, whether war is good or bad, brotherhood of soldiers, etc...) The Hurt Locker is a character study solely focused on a single individual who suffers from an addiction. The fact that he's a U.S. Soldier serving in Iraq is irrelevant to the heart of this film.

Face it folks, we won't see a war film that analyzes the nature of the Iraq war until U.S. troops have entirely pulled out because until then it's too hard to look over all the facts because things are still happening. Don't come in looking for the `Apocalypse Now' of Iraq films because you'll not find anything like it until the conflict has been resolved and we've had a few years to recollect on its events.

As it stands, The Hurt Locker is without a doubt the best film of 2009 with an amazing performance from Jeremy Renner and expert direction by Kathryn Bigelow. I feel that people may not understand it now, but much like Apocalypse Now, or any of Stanley Kubrick's films I believe that this will be a film that the public shall look back on as being something unforgettable.

Thankfully the Academy managed to see The Hurt Locker's value upon release instead of making a decision they would have regretted ten years from now.

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More The Hurt Locker reviews
review by . January 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   We have seen several movies about urban warfare. One of my personal favorites is Ridley Scott’s “Black Hawk Down” that chronicles a harrowing incident in Somalia. With the war in Iraq still going on, filmmakers wouldn’t be hard-pressed to capitalize on today’s current events. Movies such as “Brothers” and “Home of the Brave” are some of the few. Director Kathryn Bigelow with screenwriter Mark Boal now chronicles the experiences of …
review by . April 06, 2010
"The Hurt Locker" currently stands as the most critically acclaimed film of 2009 and after seeing it just this week I'm inclined to agree this acclamation wholeheartedly. This really is a work of art from start to finish and has now been moved to the top of my list of movies to own and cherish forever. Since its release it has won numerous awards and has 9 Academy award nominations which they will undoubtedly win come the ceremony in March. The cast comprises of unknowns, but are ones …
review by . January 21, 2010
Brilliant! An Honest and Suspenseful Look Into the Thrill of War!
Generally speaking, watching war films isn't always a fun experience.  After wards they can leave feeling down and depressed and while The Hurt Locker is mostly a serious film, it is filled with subtle humor and will leave you at the edge of your seat the minute the film starts.  Being her first major directing job, Kathryn Bigelow did an outstanding job capturing all the nit and grit of the battlefield that is Iraq.  In such a male dominated field (not directing; being a soldier), …
review by . December 07, 2010
   The Hurt Locker represents a turning point for Hollywood: it not only marks the first time a woman has been awarded the Oscar for Best Picture, but also for Best Director, and anyone who has seen this film will surely agree it deserved them both. Bigelow's direction demonstrates a natural command over her subject, despite never having been to war. Her battle scenes deliver tense moments of suspense and terror in this story about a bomb disposal unit, Bravo Company, serving in the …
review by . June 27, 2009
Hurt Locker
 I am still reeling from how good 'The Hurt Locker' is.  It's one of those movies that stays with you and makes you want to talk about it with others - which is why I'm up writing this review.  By far, this film is one of the most intense movies I've seen in a long time.   The writing is superb.  Mark Boal's script flies off the page with a brisk pace and treats the audience as intelligent people who do not need to be force fed.  Tension is the through line here. …
review by . April 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: One of the actors was attractive and a couple of explosions are cool      Cons: Grab a thesaurus and pick out 15 words for boring, all of them will apply      The Bottom Line: 30 shades of brown 30 shades of ennui without content.  Don't bother, waiting in line at the DMV is more exciting.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. The Hurt Locker is a tepid film. It is inconsistent, …
Quick Tip by . July 29, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Outstanding film. Not a single bad thing about it. One of the best war films in years.
review by . March 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Hurt Locker isn't a bad film in itself and the story of the main character is interesting, as is the menace of the bombs and the faceless duel that seems to ensue. I think that part of the film is clever.    The sets are fantastic and have a realistic gritty feel. Now I have not been to Iraq/Afghanistan myself but in my circle of friends there are two that have been there for tour of duty and keeping this in mind I don't think he story is far fetched as some here say. Things …
review by . March 09, 2010
"The Hurt Locker" has just won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture and it truly earns it. Here is a war movie that takes no real position on war, and especially no position on the Iraq War, and simply shows the mental and physical brutality and beauty of conflict.    You know the story by now. It centers around a bomb disposal and disarmament team in Iraq who throw themselves into harm's way on a regular basis in order to make life safer for their fellow soldiers and civilians. …
review by . March 06, 2010
Hey don't fret, potential enlistee! Hard as it is to discount the evidence of your senses when bombarded with skillful and costly cinematography, the 'gritty realism' of this film is totally unrealistic, full-bore Hollywood. Yeah, there may be scenes of mayhem similar to the scenes in the film at times, but not with such convenient regularity, not even in Baghdad in 2004. And there were innumerable other implausible or outright false details; just look at the one-star reviews here and not how many …
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The Hurt Locker is a 2009 American war thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Shot in Jordan, the film is based on recently declassified information about a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) (bomb squad) team in present day Iraq. The Hurt Locker is written by Mark Boal, a freelance writer who was embedded with a bomb squad.

The Hurt Locker was picked up by distributor Summit Entertainment. The film was released in the U.S. on June 26, 2009 in New York and Los Angeles, going wider on July 24, 2009.

The Hurt Locker follows a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit as it works to defuse a series of improvised explosive devices (IED) in the streets of Iraq.

When the team's long-time bomb technician is killed, he is quickly replaced with the intelligent but impulsive Sergeant First Class William James. Team members Sergeant JT Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge are initially disturbed by William's reckless behavior, but they learn to work together as a unit. It soon becomes apparent that William actually craves the feeling of mortal danger that he experiences while defusing bombs.

As the unit deals with one explosive device after another, it confronts the unpredictable and extreme violence of a growing Iraqi insurgency. Team members struggle constantly to distinguish enemy insurgents from innocent Iraqis and to protect themselves while avoiding civilian casualties. As the group's tour of duty draws to a close, each member suffers visibly from ...
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Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Genre: War
Release Date: June 26, 2009 
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
Runtime: 131 minutes
Studio: Summit Entertainment
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