Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" is a hard-hitting, loud, and realistic take on the war in Iraq, much like "Three Kings." As screenwriter Mark Boal said (at a Q & A session following the film last night), this is a "combat film," as opposed to "In the Valley of Elah" or "The Lucky Ones," both of which did mediocre at the B.O. (although Bigelow said that she didn't really care about entering a revenue-low genre). And man, is the film intense. Practically every scene is.

It begins (after quoting thrill-seeking journalist Chris Hedges) with a small robot running through the streets of Baghdad. This is piloted by Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Thompson (Guy Pearce), the resident bomb defuser. The explosives don't reach their target, so we see Thompson go into action. He's killed by a massive explosion (one of the most well-orchestrated I've ever seen), calling for a replacement and threatening the balance between Sanborn, Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), and the defuser. The replacement is intensity-craving, brash Will James, played by Jeremy Renner. He shows that there is a new force on the team, which resonates harshly with straight-man Sanborn. Mackie is very affecting here, and perhaps helps the audience enter into this sandstorm of a movie, a stylistic but true-to-life piece. Boal also said that he had been on "runs" with the bomb defusers, observing the action enough to put together a screenplay. It feels as deep as it is.

Beyond Pearce, there are also two other actors in bit parts as contractors (although I won't reveal who they are so you can have the surprise of spotting them). Other forces that shouldn't go unnoticed are the FX team, who create amazing explosions, and the director/writer team, who elicit the right amount of tensity. There were a couple problems, though. There was a lack of real resting time within the film. I mean, one crazy thing happened one after another (sometimes amounting to three major events in one scene). This could have been solved with padding the film a little bit with a little stoppage time, thus moving the length from 131 minutes to 150 or 155. That could have made a pretty sizable difference. Otherwise, "The Hurt Locker" is a very good war film, but this time about how war can fuel the cravings of violent, masculine men. A-

Note: The title of the film was also discussed at the Q & A. Boal attributed it to a term used in sports and war. I thought possibly it could have been referring to the suit of a defuser. Am I the only one?

1 comment:

S. M. Rana said...

Locker is a kind of box ( with a lock ) to store articles ( like tools ). So hurt locker is a place where one is "locked up", like a theatre of war, and where one experiences pain.

Reminded me of the movie, Patton (72 ) where the main character loves war ( maybe in a different sense ).