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The Hurt Locker (2009)

A 2009 movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

< read all 13 reviews

Among the dullest filYAWNms evYAWNer

  • Apr 15, 2010
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, incomplete, and often effete. Ultimately I didn’t care about any of the characters and this made me angry.

The solders we will share our time with are assigned to a bomb disposal unit in Iraq; they have about six weeks left in this tour. The film starts with a tragedy. The diffusing expert is killed with the device he tries to diffuse explodes. He was apparently respected and careful, so his death sharpens the edginess the team possessed anyway. This anxiety increases significantly when his replacement arrives. Sgt Will James is a rambunctious show-off intent on adding more and more disarming feats to his already lengthy list. As an example of his dangerous teamlessness, on his first mission, he throws smoke grenades so that the rest of the squad, all standing guard watching for any possible threat, cannot see him. For this James is praised by a war-proud major who seemed to be a lukewarm analogue to the seriously scary Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duval in Apocalypse Now). The major is broad symbol of characters meant to appear only once and who only might further the story.

Sgt JT Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge round out the uncomfortable triumvirate that witnesses, participates and instigates the events of the interminable movie. They leave the part of the city they patrol for an ill-defined “mission” in the desert where they meet up with some ill-defined mercenaries(?) and get caught up in an hours long sniper situation that feels like it lasts for hours. Later, they break what amounts to soldier’s superstition by allowing an unexpected passenger—the camp psychiatrist. He is the polar opposite of the irresponsible major—he is just as flat and just as temporary.

The portion of the film that is supposed to give us a different insight into Sgt James is complex and the only thing I could say I liked, however it was badly timed. James discovers that a little imp he had come to like had been turned into a body-bomb (murdered and stuffed with explosives). He gathers some hasty intelligence and goes in seek of revenge. In the process he puts himself and his “buds” in danger. His real motives, their results, and what James takes away from this are perhaps the only reasons to watch this almost endless, boring film whose foundation is waiting … waiting … waiting … roll credits.

Guy Pearce, Ralph Feinnes, and David Morse (yea I know, where did he come from?) play stock stereotypes. I’m not sure if the script offered them little opportunity to create any depth or if they were just as bored by it as I turned out to be. The principles play types only slightly more rounded (and I must admit to having to resort to to find their names): the devil may care thrill seeker (Jeremy Renner), the avuncular sergeant whose goal is to get everyone home alive but lacks any real passion about it (Anthony Mackie) and the semi-shell-shocked kid (Brian Geraghty).

My guiltiest pleasures are car chases and explosions. There were no car chases but some of the explosions were pretty cool but they were not enough to rescue the film from its pervasive lassitude.

Beyond that … the camerawork was dull. The setting was just lots of shades of brown. There was little to no music, this meant ambient sound. We see a group of men, one a sniper, another the second spotter and they wait, wait, wait … wait ……. wait …….. wait with only desert wind for sound. The movie really was that dull.

Calling back to the opening of this review, the boredom was seriously annoying but what made me angry is that I didn’t care at all about any of the characters. None of them were invested with enough of a back story or even a front story that allowed me to hold on to something that would permit me to feel something, anything (as awful as it may sound whether/how they lived or died didn’t affect me at all). And it was hard for me to imagine that I would actually have to try to find something tangible in a soldier (a type of character that usually comes pre-loaded with juicy bits).

This is a film about an ongoing war. So it walks a razor blade. Modern war movies are either anti-war or a sort of pro-war that explains that the motives can be noble even if all the actions are not (thus mature and complex). When you make a film about a current conflict, there is very little wiggle room here because we are still sorting out and struggling with the motives. I think The Hurt Locker was able to create a new space between these binary options: if you bore us enough, we might find your lack of any real social commitment “profound.”

Maybe I should go back and watch The English Patient. It had been the most boring Best Picture winner prior to this one. Maybe I’ll try it again to see if any life-by-proxy was breathed into its sand blown corpse.


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December 30, 2011
Good review man although I did like this flick mostly. Renner is great.
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. …
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
"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 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 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 …
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
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Paul Savage ()
Ranked #29
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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About this movie


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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