Review: The Hurt Locker
PLOT:: After their commanding officer is killed in action, a bomb disposal unit embedded in Iraq (Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty), gets a new leader in the form of Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner). While seemingly affable and easygoing on the outside, James has, after many tours of duty, become a full fledged adrenaline junkie- leading him to adopt increasingly reckless behavior that endangers his short-timed crew.
REVIEW: Wow, hereís a day I never thought Iíd see. THE HURT LOCKER is FINALLY getting released in North American theaters. I saw this film almost a year ago at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal, and I liked it so much that it made my top ten list at the end of the year.
In some ways, I canít blame Lionsgate for holding off on THE HURT LOCKER, as films about Iraq have not exactly lit the box office on fire over the last few years. However, this film is nothing like those films, in that itís actually entertaining. Director Kathryn Bigelow doesnít seemed all that concerned with making some grand statement about the war, but rather makes an topical action flick that probably owes more to ALIENS than it does to preachy films like IN THE VALLEY OF ELLAH, & REDACTED.
Bigelow has always been one of the best, if most under-recognized action directors of her generation. NEAR DARK, BLUE STEEL, and POINT BREAK are all kick-ass action flicks, and STRANGE DAYS is, I believe, her masterpiece (sadly audiences didnít agree, as the film flopped big time). While sheís had a misfire of two (although I imagine Harrison Ford is more to blame for K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER than she is), THE HURT LOCKER is her operating at the peak of her abilities.
There are a few action sequences in THE HURT LOCKER that are among the best in recent memory. Towards the middle of the film, thereís a terrific sniper shootout thatís destined to become a classic, and some of the scenes bomb defusal scenes, especially when it comes to live persons being turned into walking time bombs, are nail biting to the extreme.
Bigelow aside, the other MVP on this film has to be leading man Jeremy Renner. Heís been around for a while now, and a few years ago he was being touted as the next big thing, but I really never got what all the fuss was about until now. Renner is awesome in this, and many have compared him to Steve McQueen, and truly- of all the actors over the years that have been compared to McQueen, heís probably the closest.
When Renner entered the film, I assumed he would be turned into some kind of two-dimensional villain, sort of a Col. Kurtz rip-off, but instead, he actually becomes the filmís hero. With any other actor playing the role, James would have come off as a psycho, but with Renner in the lead, you never doubt for one second that, despite his recklessness, James is indeed a hero, who despite being addicted to danger, is fully committed to doing the right thing when the situation arises. While he may be out of his mind, his moral compass is still intact, and youíll notice that he tends to only really put himself in danger when it means helping someone else.
Renner aside, the rest of the cast is also solid, with Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty putting in solid work as the rest of the bomb disposal crew. There are also a handful of great cameos from Guy Pearce, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly, & Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes, who starred in STRANGE DAYS, is particularly good, and this, along with his foul mouthed turn in IN BRUGES (another top 10 pick), just might be the start of a new badass phase in his career.
I really hope people get out and see THE HURT LOCKER, as it really deserves to be a massive hit. With people flocking to see TRANSFORMERS 2 this weekend, I recommend that anyone looking for a REAL action flick, check out this instead.