Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
Written By: Mark Boal
Staring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, Evangeline Lily, Christopher Sayegh, and Christian Camargo
But you realize every time you suit up, every time we go out, it’s life or death. You roll the dice, and you deal with it. You recognize that don’t you? -Sanborn
The Hurt Locker blew me away. (Pun intended) 2009 has been an excellent year for movies in my thoughts. Not just well made movies, but movies that are going to be bench marks of the decade, movies that will be remembered forever. To me, The Hurt Locker belongs at the top of that pack, and anything it wins at the Oscars will be well deserved, even taking in consideration two other beloved films of mine are nominated this year as well (Inglourious Basterds & Avatar). As much as I loved each of those films, The Hurt Locker is a movie just as original, just as powerful, and one of the most remarkably intense movies I have ever seen.
The buzz has been palpable for a year now, and yet I managed to avoid seeing anything other than a poster. No trailers, no spoilers, not even too much of a synopsis of the plot. I read peoples opinions, but avoided any of the specific details. To my pleasure everything about this movie was a new discovery, a journey with the characters, learning very little, but simultaneously very much.
The story itself is pretty simple. It’s focused around three men coming to an end of their tour in Iraq and they are specialists. Specialists that deal with disarming bombs. Dangerous? I would say so. War is dangerous for whomever is a part of it, and The Hurt Locker makes that clear very quickly, but the job these men do is pretty much putting themselves at deaths door. When a new member joins the team towards the end of the tour, his insane antics and crazy aversion to fear is unnerving to the other men, but as each day to their return home comes closer the tension of each trip grows that much more.
The realism and shaky camera’s weren’t necessarily present here, but that missing element gave you the ability to really absorb the surroundings. I’m fairly certain that even I had seen enough sand by the time the film had ended. The bitterness of the dessert and the freakishly obvious presence of the terrorism within urban housing and communities was disturbing. The hollowness of war was exemplified in a world trying to exist in spite of the presence of a foreign force trying to reign in a violence that had no real purpose. In spite of some of the landscape, there is definitely a feeling of claustrophobia here, the inability to escape the area of danger that the men were daily subjected to.
Two incredible performances stood out to me. The first was Jeremy Renner playing the insane bomb specialist SFC William James. No male performance I’ve seen this year has been so profoundly resonating. There is very little unveiled about the character, yet the layers of depth and the small bits and pieces of emotion given through subtle details byRenner made this performance ridiculously understated. The overall film was without question incredible, but the word of Renner was not close to as large. I haven’t seen Bridges performance in Crazy Heart, but it’s difficult to imagine the Dude winning overRenner, who has left me speechless. Also not mentioned was the tense performance of Anthony Mackie . The chemistry between the two men built the tale and gave The Hurt Locker the legs it needed to stand. In the final moment between the two we are given the opportunity to see what made each man tick and what made each of them different. James and Sanborn carry the movie and their performances were equally as noteworthy as the amazing direction and cinematography.
Kathryn Bigelow did a phenomenal job putting this film together. The subject matter, the setting, and the situation may not have had a large appeal to people ended up evolving into one of the most riveting movies of the decade and certainly one of the most outstanding this year. The weight men carry that have to do things we can’t imagine, how it changes them, and how it solidifies some in their ways were only some of the character trials explored. Sanborn’s reflection at the end says it all. Some men do what they have to do to get by, and some men were built for the job.
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