Some of you have already weighed in with your favorable opinions of THE HURT LOCKER, and I’m glad to say that I concur: it’s a very fine film, worthy of its Best Picture nomination, and I sort of hope it wins.
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, it’s the story of a small group of soldiers in Iraq who work as bomb disposal experts. There’s not really much of a plot. They go out and deal with a bomb, they go out and deal with a bomb, they get trapped in a desert firefight while they’re on a mission to dispose of a bomb, they deal with an Iraqi civilian who’s forced to be an unwilling suicide bomber, etc. Between missions, we get a little background on the three main characters, but not much. And this is one case where the technique works just fine. The harrowing details of these soldiers’ day to day lives are very effective.
Along the way there’s also a countdown to the end of the team’s rotation in Iraq. Even though that’s a bit of a cliché, it adds to the realism of the film. There are plenty of explosions, but they’re not the sort of fancy, pyrotechnical Stuff Blowing Up Real Good so common in films. They’re loud and dusty and grim and dangerous, sort of like real explosions must be.
The acting is fine all around, but Jeremy Renner, who was really good as a cop in the short-lived TV series THE UNUSUALS, is great as the new sergeant who comes in and takes over the team after the previous team leader is killed in an explosion early on. He’s good enough that I need to find out what other movies he’s been in.
I also liked the fact that THE HURT LOCKER doesn’t seem to have any political axes to grind. It’s really more of an old-fashioned GI movie about this handful of soldiers, the way they interact, and the job they do. And it doesn’t hurt that it has some of the most suspenseful scenes you’ll ever see.
I think this is far and away director Kathryn Bigelow’s best film, and it’s the only thing I’ve watched lately that may hold up over the years as a great film. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.