Friday, August 7, 2009

The Hurt Locker

Shot with a budget of $11 million, The Hurt Locker is not your usual war film and it's going to be considered as a classic in the upcoming years. In terms of action, it's not Saving Private Ryan (not that the action scenes in this film suck). As for the script, don't expect to see something like Flags of Our Fathers or L'ennemi intime (not that the script is lame). In short, be aware that The Hurt Locker definitely turns the war genre upside down.

The story is centred on three soldiers of an U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit working in the streets of Iraq. Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) not only has to deal with the bombs, but also with the psychological effect the war has on his mates Sgt. JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty). Besides, as time goes by, the insurgency gets stronger.

As it was said, The Hurt Locker turns the war genre upside down in that it doesn't have a story per se. However, we can see that such a risky approach by scriptwriter Mark Boal is rather bold. In fact, this independent film focuses on showing the daily lives of soldiers in a midst of a war through 1) their routine (disarming bombs) and 2) the "relaxation" time. All in all, The Hurt Locker, in a nutshell, is a brilliant study of characters.

As a matter of fact, the film may seem disorganized (some scenes may seem insignificant for many), but its focus is on the characters' experience of war on a daily basis since we can sense that some are waiting for the rotation day (i.e. another company takes over). Therefore, the most valuable asset The Hurt Locker can rely on is the impeccable performance from the cast given that the actors play fascinating characters that Hollywood-made war films don't necessarily give us. For that matter, congratulation to Jeremy Renner who does a terrific job in portraying a man who lives by war the same way others live by mountain climbing without gears.

In fact, Staff Sgt. James doesn't give much of a business whether he dies or lives, because he likes his job. At some point, he's trying to realize how much war is the synonym of danger for his brothers in arms. Besides, the fear of death is well rendered by Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty who obviously deserve recognition for their supporting job since their characters have the responsibility to make Staff Sgt. James evolve throughout the story.

Finally, The Hurt Locker is, without a doubt, one of the best films I've seen this summer. Despite drifting away from the traditional scriptwriting convention, The Hurt Locker is going to have some recognition at the next Oscars mostly because of the cast's performance. All in all, we can go as far as to say that this film is almost perfect.

Rating: 4.5/5

Origin:USA (2009)
Length:131 minutes
Genre:War drama
Screenplay:Mark Boal
Director:Kathryn Bigelow
Starring:Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty

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