Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The Hurt Locker (2008)
An intense portrayal of elite soldiers who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming bombs in the heat of combat. When a new sergeant, James, takes over a highly trained bomb disposal team amidst violent conflict, he surprises his two subordinates, Sanborn and Eldridge, by recklessly plunging them into a deadly game of urban combat. James behaves as if he's indifferent to death. As the men struggle to control their wild new leader, the city explodes into chaos, and James' true character reveals itself in a way that will change each man forever.
Adrenaline-pumping “realistic” depiction of war on the ground in Iraq. “War is a drug” is the opening quotation—specifically, in this movie, that drug is adrenaline, and the junkie is squad-leader James, assigned to head the Bravo bomb squad after the former leader gets himself blown up. The squad has only 38 days left on it's highly dangerous tour of duty, but with the arrival of the old-style, bigger-than-life, rough-and-ready action-hero, James, their odds of surviving to day 39 just got a lot poorer. This film works on a lot of levels. Unfortunately, it's rather difficult to know, without having actually been there, how accurate a portrayal it is of the life of a soldier on the ground in Iraq. As an action-packed, suspenseful war-thriller, however, this film is top-notch. The hero or anti-hero of the film, James, is an adrenaline junkie who can't function in the “real world” where his wife and baby son live, but is only really at home on the edge of destruction. And yet James may indeed be just what the situation orders—a seemingly fearless comando who gets the job done no matter what. “Body-bombs” (corpses wired with explosives), unwilling civilians wired as walking bombs begging to be saved, mercenaries seeking bounties on wanted terrorists, street-vendors and onlookers who may be carrying the trigger to the next buried bomb—determining who is a friend and who is foe becomes a minute-by-minute life-or-death situation. The acting is great all-around. The characters are fully fleshed out, and the pacing and dark humor are perfect. Jeremy Renner is truly someone to watch in the future. Whether the situation is real-to-life or not, I think where the movie does “work” as a message film is in subverting the “Rambo” mentality of war, giving a much more realistic depiction of what drives “Rambo” and the consequences of putting “Rambo” in charge. Beyond that, take it with a grain of salt, as hopefully you do all war movies.