30 September 2009

War Is A Drug.

... or at least it's what The Hurt Locker would have you believe. This theme bubbles under the surface of the film, which takes place in 2004 Iraq and follows an American EOD squad as they face the dangers of defusing bombs and attempt to get along with each other in the process -- all without getting killed.

Upon viewing, it wasn't hard to see why this was such a critic's darling. Director Kathyrn Bigelow (Point Break, Strange Days) imbues the movie with a constantly palpable and satisfying tension. It probably didn't hurt that the film was penned by a freelance writer who'd been embedded with an actual bomb squad during the war. I could feel almost everything, from the baked-in heat wafting up from the cracked asphalt, to the drowsy maddening weight of the bomb suits, to the near-frantic anticipation of the inevitable sniper's bullet. It's exhausting and exhilirating at the same time. The moviemakers get Giant Gold Stars for execution; Locker is beautifully made and looks stunning.

Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty, who play the three members of the EOD unit, are simply fantastic in their roles. Each a soldier with his own motivations, they struggle to really mesh as a team and find themselves in a few perilous situations as a result (including one which slightly strained my suspension of disbelief). By the end of the film however, each man finds what he's looking for -- more or less -- and the film's theme becomes more apparent. I finished the movie with a renewed appreciation for our troops overseas, and was thoroughly entertained and pleased.

The Hurt Locker is not your typical war/action film. Yes it takes place in Iraq, but doesn't have any overt political messages. Characters are fully fleshed out which more than makes up for the lack of a grand, overarching plot. The atmosphere is humid, dense and startlingly vivid. I'd recommend this movie if you're in the mood for a gritty, intelligent take on an overlooked aspect of the military effort. I guess it could be considered "eye candy" of sorts with the explosions and gunfire, but it really is a smarter film than that. Press Play on this one.

2 comment(s):

Creative Silence said...

I've been debating whether I could handle this movie. I spent 2yrs in Iraq...lots of memories. Great review bro.

Ran said...

Chris, I think it's worth a viewing. It's pretty intense, and yeah parts of it are "Hollywood", but it's not mindless. I appreciated not being pandered to. Bigelow and the actors did their thing and some awards need to be handed out. And thanks for serving.

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