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Sunday, January 24, 2010

MisenPOPic Movie Review: The Hurt Locker

I always make it a point to see the movies that are competing and winning all of the awards whether it be the SAG, Golden Globes, Critics Choice, or Oscars just so as long as the movies aren't directed by Woody Allen or are too artistic for me to appreciate. So far, I've seen most of the noteworthy movies: Up, (500) Days Of Summer, Inglourious Basterds, Invictus, The Hangover, and Avatar. When the hoopla surrounding Up In The Air came first by critics wanting to immediately hand the award over to Jason Reitman's movie about the trouble economy, I made sure to catch this movie. After seeing the movie on Christmas, I agreed with the critics and was pretty confident that it was going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Then the buzz seemed to steer toward another movie called The Hurt Locker that must have come and gone in theaters because I don't remember it being released. I had to wait until it arrived on DVD this past week. There really is no comparison between Up In The Air and The Hurt Locker, it's like comparing Howard The Duck to The Godfather. Brilliantly directed by Kathryn Bigelow, I'd even go so far as to say it might be the best war movie I have seen since Saving Private Ryan in 1998. I probably enjoyed Avatar directed by Bigelow's ex-husband James Cameron the most of any movie I saw in 2009 and won't gripe if it wins the Oscar for Best Picture, but The Hurt Locker probably was the best actual film of the year.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this movie, The Hurt Locker is a movie about an Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit during the Iraqi War who are responsible for locating and disarming bombs. Shot in 16mm, the film feels more like a documentary than an actual movie. It leaves you on the edge of your seat as you never quite know if James will deactivate the various kinds of bombs before they go off. The Disposal Unit consists of three soldiers: African-American Sergeant J.T. Sanborn who is the rational solider responsible for aiding the bomb technician as he gallantly tries to disarm the bomb; Specialist Owen Eldridge who provides the humor even as he questions whether he is cut out for the war and worried if he will live or die; and of course the best character in the movie, William James the reckless team leader responsible for actually disarming the bombs without much of a care in the world. With all the buzz about Clooney and Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, the best performance that people will still be talking about fifteen years from now is the brilliant acting of Jeremy Renner as James. Perfectly cast, Renner seems like your everyday southern boy obsessed and passionate about his role in the madness and should win the Best Actor award even though politics and the fact that he's not a household name will hurt his chances. Bigelow also did a helluva job directing this film, and any other year she would be the first woman to win an Oscar Award for a war movie. But I think it's James Cameron's year, and Avatar is going to win the awards for Best Picture and Best Director. I recommend The Hurt Locker for people that enjoy war movies and want to get a realistic idea of how stressful and determined these bomb squads are in deactivating these weapons of destruction. Also, William James is a character who you will loathe in a good way if that makes sense. James Cameron beat me to the punch when he proclaimed that The Hurt Locker is the modern-day "Platoon". The Hurt Locker may just be one of the ten best movies about war I have ever seen.

Grade: A (Exceeded Expectations)


  1. You already know I thought it was great, but your review is dead on in every aspect. James really is a great character and what makes it great is that his character so easily could have become a caricature. He could have been yelling "yee haa" and things like that and been totally over the top. He isn't though, he is a believable guy and thas what makes this movie great. What I also loved is we learn about the characters through their actions. There arent a ton of scenes where they are just talking, there are some like that but not alot. We know about the characters by how they react to the situations they are in. And lastly as you pointed out we never know how a mission will turn out. Its not a movie where its early in the flim so the audience knows no one will die or nothing bad will happen. Every single mission drips with suspense and builds to its own climax. A really great movie.

  2. exactly, you can't wait to see how each character reacts to each situation. Even when Sanborn hints that he might "accidentally" kill James, you wonder if it might be foreshadowing something later on. Thanks for the kind words, and glad that we agree on this movie. Hope it surprises and wins the Oscar as the best film, but I told you I also don't mind if Avatar wins. And you know what, with Basterds winning the SAG award a few days ago, maybe that movie could sneak up and win.