The Hurt Locker - movie reviewIf Iraq war films are too close for comfort, then Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker takes discomfort to a whole new level. Intense doesn’t even begin to describe this story of an elite bomb squad, sent in to disarm improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that cause carnage on the streets of Baghdad. The opening scene alone may well be the most insanely gripping and amazingly constructed cinematic moment you’ll see all year.
Jeremy Renner (putting his SWAT skills to good use) stars as Staff Sergeant William James, brought in to very literally suit up for the three-man squad, alongside Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldrige (Brian Geraghty). Clambering into the heavy, unwieldy protection suit, both Renner and Bigelow do well to portray the sweaty, claustrophobic crucible in which James must work.
As a procedural, Bigelow has certainly stepped up a notch or ten from the bloated (but classic) Point Break. She and In the Valley of Elah screenwriter Mark Boal have honed the story down to essentially a few days in the precarious life of this team. And it’s absolutely fascinating. Watching them work – in the most extreme, adrenaline-drenched conditions – is where the film is at its most compelling. Indeed Bigelow should have made the narrative even sparser, as the second act stutters when James leaves the base in search of a lost local boy.
Performances across the board are strong, with Renner leading the way in utter, Oscar worthy commitment to the alpha-male, adrenaline junky James. We are Marshall alums Geraghty and Mackie mostly manage to keep up with him, while Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes show how it’s done in their pitch-perfect cameos. And Baghdad itself is the menacing antagonist, captured in all its ominous, dusty glory by United 93 cinematographer Barry Ackroyd.
Taut, terrifying and incredibly intelligent, The Hurt Locker takes its cue from the Brian Turner poem that inspired the story. The film has already taken a slew of awards, and it’s very likely Bigelow will go head-to-head with her ex-hubby Jim Cameron for Best Picture at the Oscars. Much has also been made of the novelty that Bigelow is female action film director.
Female shmemale, Kathryn Bigelow is the bomb.
The Hurt Locker opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday, February 18.
You can view The Hurt Locker movie trailer here on TheVine.
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