Originally Reviewed – 3/5/2010
One this season’s surprise critical hits and Oscar nomination scarfing films, The Hurt Locker flew under most people’s radar this past summer. Directed by Katherine Bigelow (Strange Days, Point Break, being James Cameron’s ex), this film tracks the lives and exploits of three Army soldiers whose specialty is defusing bombs in wartime Iraq. Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty round out the bomb squad in a film that’s one part war flick, another part psycho-drama and all parts wonderfully kick ass.
The first thing you notice about the film is how expertly paced and balanced it is. From the first shot to the ending frame, everything is perfectly pitched. Humor is balanced with raw emotion and intense action is intertwined with light hearted joking, all expertly mixed by Bigelow, who deserves top mark for her work in this film. Without her excellent direction, this film could have easily devolved into “just another war flick”. Thanks to her, the film brings something new to the table.
Full credit also goes to Jeremy Renner in the role of SSG William James, the leader of the team and the most complex character of the three. When you first meet James, he tends to come off as brash and arrogant, but as the movie develops, you learn how deep the character gets and Renner does a fantastic in this emotional balancing act. If it weren’t for Jeff Bridges, he would be the front runner for a Best Actor Oscar.
The other actors do a fine job filling out the triangle. Mackie, playing the hardened journeyman soldier and Geraghty as the young kid just trying to make it though play nicely to Renner’s character. The cinematography is also noteworthy as it drops it you into the fray in almost a pseudo-documentary style that not quite District 9, but features a combination of shaky cam, quick pulls and classic filmmaking that compliments the story nicely.
When all is said and done, The Hurt Locker effortlessly balances all the intensity, drama and emotion of modern day warfare in what shapes up as an instant classic. Featuring fine performances by the top three actors, a thrilling story and top notch direction by Ms. Bigelow, The Hurt Locker is one the finest films released this year and is a no-brainer must see film.
Score – 100%