Contrary to what you may have heard, THE HURT LOCKER is not the second coming of Christ.

There is no doubt that there will be worse films released this year…and certainly less successful motion pictures made about war and its horrific experiences in the future.

But there will be many that will be far superior.

It has enormous ambition. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it fulfills all of its objectives.

THE HURT LOCKER is far more conventional than you would imagine. It’s exactly like many movies that centre around some horrendous conflict. Some of it may be suspense laden and tension filled. But the only real difference is the setting: Iraq.

There are cameos from such distinguished actors as RALPH FIENNES, GUY PEARCE, DAVID MORSE and EVANGELINE LILLY.

But blink and you’ll miss them.

The narrative focuses on three American members of the Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal. They’re all character types that you’ve seen many times before: the hardass authority figure J.T. SANBORN (ANTHONY MACKIE), the rookie OWEN ELDRIDGE (BRIAN GERAGHTY) and the charismatic wild card WILL JAMES (JEREMY RENNER).

Their engaging performances are the only things that set them apart from their predecessors.

The men drive the streets in Humvees, dismantling bombs and attempting to keep the peace. It is of course terrifying and extremely risky work.

Any day that they go out on the road could conceivably be their last. They have no idea if they’ll make it to the end of their tour or ever see the faces of their loved ones again.

SGT. SANBORN is the coolest cucumber in a force full of reckless warriors and naive young men.

OWEN ELDRIDGE has an altruistic streak a mile wide. Now he wonders why he ever came to this God forsaken hellhole. He’s positive he’s going to die. The pressure is unbearable to him. He’s too young to have his dreams cut short.

STAFF SGT. WILL JAMES is impudent, rebellious and determined to do everything exactly as he wants in precisely the way that he needs to. You can’t talk him out of anything once his mind is made up. He won’t allow his judgment to be influenced by anyone else. It’s his life on the line.

Nobody calls his shots but him.

It is no surprise that he and Sanborn are constantly at odds.

But there is far more to Will than meets the eye. He is also capable of great tenderness and compassion, as evidenced by the friendships he makes overseas and what a caring father he is to his baby boy.

This is a spectacular performance by Mr. Renner. He will be remembered for this. It’s extraordinary work. He and Mr. Mackie perform at awards calibre level.

Some of the cinematography is of the shaky cam variety. But it fares far better than the ridiculously bad lensing of PUBLIC ENEMIES. There is only one scene that’s slightly grainy. The rest of it is sharp, clear and luminous.

But there is little depth to be found here.

One extended sequence has Will believing that someone close to him may be dead.

There is also an emotional conversation between heated rivals Will and J.T. where the latter states that he knows that he will never get out of the country alive. No one cares about him. No one ever will…and he won’t be able to watch the son that he’ll never have grow up into a fine young man.

Those are magnificent riveting scenes. The movie could have used more of them.

What can you say about KATHRYN BIGELOW?

She never makes films about stereotypically feminine subjects. Her motion pictures are action oriented, highly adrenalized, tough and uncompromising.

The woman has talent to burn. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

Ms. Bigelow does obtain excellent work from her performers. But you couldn’t call her an actors’ director per se.

BLUE STEEL was a flawed but intriguing picture. It was a great mythic showcase for the mesmerizing JAMIE LEE CURTIS and the fabulous RON SILVER.

STRANGE DAYS had its moments. RALPH FIENNES and ANGELA BASSETT were both wonderful.

But that detailed, disturbing, utterly distasteful rape scene was a bloody disgrace. Naturally, it was understood that it was supposed to intentionally turn your stomach. However, coming from a female filmmaker (especially…) it was completely irresponsible.

Incidentally, the connotation of the phrase that the title is derived from (which is never mentioned in the film) references a world of pain. To put someone in a hurt locker (generally from an explosion in Iraq) is to screw them up physically – in the worst possible way.

THE HURT LOCKER in no way measures up to the classic films of its genre – some of which have been mentioned here all ready.

But there is one thing that Ms. Bigelow conveys eloquently and with great flair.

She shows that war is not only hellish in its own troubled, incendiary way. For some individuals, it’s also incredibly addictive.

Once you’re in, you’ll never want out. Back home can seem far too commonplace in comparison.

You come to love the rush. Need it. Want it. Desire it. Have to have it.

It makes you feel alive and whole. You can never walk away from it.


5 Responses to “THE HURT LOCKER **”

  1. THE HURT LOCKER is far more conventional than you would imagine

    which would explain why everyone is going crazy. πŸ™‚

    anyway i didn’t hate the hurt locker which probably means it’s as good as most say it is.

    there’s nothing to hate/there’s nothing to love that how it is at the movies. even though we’re not supposed to know how these things will turn out…in the end.

    it’s just me going to see more movies and not being wowed. (there has ben some ok and some stuff i say that i liked when asked when leaving the theatre. just to break the monomania of my saying i dislike everything. but you know i mostly feel things are just ok and i’m not enthused.

    which is one of the reasons i get soo frothing *arrgh* when people are singing praise towards whatever film. i can barely remember )

    oh well at least i get to pester employeess of the angelika.

    oh and m. i did like the film bandslam. really… πŸ™‚

    god (or whomever) guess that’s proof i’m losing it. now i wonder will i get the dvd….

  2. glim, I know precisely where you’re coming from. I like and admire a lot of stuff that you enjoy.

    I also hate a lot of films with a white hot passion that you can’t stand either.

    We’re on the same page more often than not.

    THE HURT LOCKER is the most overrated crap I’ve seen in a while. It has some excellent acting. But that’s about it. The only really unique thing was the Iraq setting. It seemed like 100,000 things I had all ready seen before. I was very bored. Almost fell asleep during some portions of it.

    My boy didn’t like it much. He wasn’t very impressed either. He’s a teddy bear. But he’s still much more of a guy’s guy than some of the men I’ve dated.

    So whatever…

    If people want to say that this is the most awesome film of the year or the decade, they can take their shot. But it won’t even make my Top 10.

    I don’t think it’s anything to get excited over.

    Are you kidding? You liked BANDSLAM…?

    I’ve heard about it. But I still don’t know a great deal about that flick. Isn’t that a real departure for you, glim?

    You’ll have to give me the straight goods on that…

  3. no, i wasn’t joking i loved bandslam! πŸ™‚

    free screenings can be so good. πŸ™‚

  4. πŸ™‚

  5. Actually, since you became a champion of BANDSLAM, I’ve checked out some reviews and gotten some background information.

    Now I get it, darling glimster.

    Bet you’re surprised, huh? Did you ever think that you’d dig a film that had actors from HSM???

    I guess you can never accurately predict the future. Life always has some interesting uncharted territory waiting for us.

    We can never get too complacent. That’s probably a good thing…

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