Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Hurt Locker

By Reymundo Salao

The Hurt Locker is a 2009 American war thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The film is based on recently declassified information about a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD / bomb squad) team in present day Iraq. The Hurt Locker is written by Mark Boal, a freelance writer who was embedded with a bomb squad.

The world premiere of The Hurt Locker was at the 65th Annual Venice Film Festival, Venice, Italy, on September 4th, 2008 and appeared in several film festivals where it won several awards. It has only been theatrically released in the U.S. only lately (June 26, 2009). But copies of the movie have been available all around the net and the DVD stalls.

This is one movie which may not have the marketing power of other Hollywood movies, specifically because the actors on it are not very well-known. But make no mistake in underestimating this movie because this really is one really good war movie. A very realistic urban-action war actually, one that really reflects the goings-on in urban Iraq.

It was a good thing that the movie employed actors which are relatively unknown, so as in order to erase any familiarity from the audience which adds to the realistic semi-documentary appeal it has. On the other hand, there are also minor appearances by well known actors, Ralph Fiennes makes an appearance as a British soldier, and then there's also David Morse and Guy Pierce as soldiers as well.

This film really shows us how complicated is the situation of US soldiers in Iraq. A setting wherein it is thickly urban and they know for sure that a great number of their population is either secretly fighting against them, or at least sympathizing against them. This is a place where they can get really paranoid, and sometimes tend to push them over the edge. This is perhaps the reason why the main character (Sgt. James) played by Jeremy Renner is so charismatically appealing, it is that he keeps his cool and has that semi-suicidal personality. His character very much reminds me of Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon, a character who seems to have that fuck the world attitude deep inside him that is why he tends to joke around death and the possibility of being killed in action. This makes me think of it as a realistic Lethal Weapon set in real Iraq. At one point, this character takes off his entire body armor and declares that "there's enough explosives here to send us to Jesus, if I'm gonna die, I wanna die comfortable" which is probably one of my favorite lines in the movie, and clearly defines the character of our hero. If this was indeed Lethal Weapon, Anthony Mackie plays this movie’s Roger Murtaugh . Mackie plays the more human side of the three-man team. He is the one who is more worried of James’ recklessness and is constantly trying to take things far more cautiously than James.

Although the film gives us a realistic style of filmmaking as it sometimes employs a documentary video look, the movie also tends to shift into more stylish angles at times, beautiful shots from well-placed angles, and also the smart use of high-res slow-motion shots in few scenes. But it never ever deviates from the realism. There is a desert gunfight action scene, particularly a sniper battle which really shows us how complicated things can get in a sniper battle, such as the waiting before the target can be visible, and many other problems such as the jamming of guns, and such. There is also a gunfight battle that can get realistically brief. This movie is as realistic as real anti-terrorist action can be. This is straight-up serious action. No bullshit. This is one of those movies that really lets you step into the shoes of a soldier, and lets you join in on a tour of duty.


Unknown said...

This is a great movie, i remembered being up all night just to finish it, recommended it to an idian co worker and he was all praise. Its a simple movie that lets you in on the horrors, chalenges hopelessness of people involved in the war and everybody cought in the middle.

And to rebut you, they do have famous actors in this film, only on a short life span though..

Unknown said...

gene... read my review again...
and you will find that I indeed pointed that out with this excerpt:

"On the other hand, there are also minor appearances by well known actors"