Movie: "The Hurt Locker"
Year: 2009
Rated: R
Genre: Drama
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Writing credits: Mark Boal

Reviewer: -RoG-
Posted: 3/3/2010

Plot: A tense look at what an army bomb squad stationed in Iraq has to deal with on a daily basis.

Review: Caught this movie on a whim the other night and was surprised at just how captivating it was. I'll preface this review by telling you that I can't comment on how realistic or how accurate the film is. I'm not in the military (shocking, I know), so I can only compare it to other war films I've seen. Full Metal Jacket will always be my favorite, but it's always nice to see a new film that handles the subject of war well.

It all starts off with a US Army Sergeant First Class William James arriving in Iraq to take over the command of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit whose commander was recently killed by a bomb. The team quickly realizes that James has a very different leadership style and things start tensing up extremely fast.

Turns out, James is so gung-ho about defusing bombs that it's pretty much the one thing in life that he truly loves. While he is great at what he does, his fearless style in these incredibly dangerous situations only heightens the intensity of what his team is experiencing every day. For example, I'm sure you can imagine how removing his communications gear while defusing a bomb would really put his fellow soldiers completely on edge.

The film truly does a fantastic job of establishing a nervous atmosphere with each situation they get into by keeping things very quiet, and the pace extremely slow. This potent combination will have you holding your breath, waiting to see what's going to happen to the soldiers, and nearly exhausted after each intensely visceral scene.

The Hurt Locker isn't without its flaws, however. There are certainly elements of the film which come off more like Hollywood sensationalism to add more drama to a story that didn't need it. For example, I thought the movie could've easily done without the scene in which the Sergeant William James abandons his unit in the middle of the night by sneaking into an Iraqi citizen's car and invading somebody's house. It was just a little too over the top. Then again, much of his behavior in the film seemed like something that wouldn't be tolerated in the military as he often put his fellow team members in jeopardy.

Despite the few unnecessary scenes, the movie had me completely engaged from start to finish. It puts you right into the heat of battle where you find yourself suspecting everyone and everything could potentially kill these soldiers at any given moment. Whether you agree or disagree with the war, put those feelings aside and watch this movie. I'm sure you'll find it just as nerve-wracking (in a good way) as I did.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Mar 3rd, 2010, 09:25 AM
I want to see this movie. When James Cameron won whatever recent award he won for Avatar (I think it was a Golden Globe) he said Kathryn Bigelow should have won instead of him. That piqued my interest in this movie.
Forum Virgin
Mar 3rd, 2010, 01:20 PM
Cameron probably said it cause shes his ex-wife, nothing like getting on your ex-woman's good side.. Maybe he didn't want to look like an ass while going up against her with his huge blockbuster, I just don't know. But frankly she should have won, and should win, awards many awards over him for this movie. Despite different tastes for differing genre Avatar was a puddle of blue mud compared to this movie.

The quick synopsis is a little off though Rog. While it is about what they have to go through day to do, its a little more about how war changes you and makes you something completely different but how that change is hard to let go of when you need to most.

This movie could have just as well been set in a maximum security prison and still told the same story well enough to win or be nominated for the awards its up for. I found myself thinking of what a lot of prisoners say they go through getting out of jail after many years of incarceration. They're afraid, they're tense, they don't know how they're going to integrate back into the "real world" and when they finally get out there they, even subconsciously, find a way right back inside.

The quote at the beginning and how its altered before it fades completely reflects the sentiment and drives the focus of the story. Most people see a quote at the beginning of something and write it off but I found myself referring back to it often and I think that's fairly amazing storytelling when most movies today are more about whats coming next rather then what you've seen even minutes before.
Forum Virgin
Mar 3rd, 2010, 01:26 PM
I also want to add to what I said that I watched this with my fiance and she felt the most shocking part wasn't necessarily what the Bomb Squad has to go through daily but more so what the people planting the bombs do to their own people on a daily basis.
Mar 3rd, 2010, 02:42 PM
Originally Posted by Pentegarn View Post
I want to see this movie. When James Cameron won whatever recent award he won for Avatar (I think it was a Golden Globe) he said Kathryn Bigelow should have won instead of him. That piqued my interest in this movie.
well he was right
Jason's a Furry! Run!
Mar 3rd, 2010, 03:19 PM
In defense of the scene of him sneaking out into the night, it was meant to show what a dumb-ass move that would be in real life. He's lucky he didn't get kidnapped or killed (which is even addressed a bit later in the film when he tries it again, with the rest of his squad).

I can't comment on the accuracy very much either, but from what I understand while a lot of the details in the movie are inaccurate for military life, the general tone of the movie is dead-on. Still need to get my Marine buddy to see it to know any better than that, though.

Still, amazing movie either way. Some of the defusing scenes are tense as hell, no doubt. Here's hoping it takes Best Picture on Sunday (since District 9 doesn't have a chance, sadly).
Forum Virgin
Mar 3rd, 2010, 09:23 PM
The sniper battle was wicked tense. i kept expecting to see one of them take a bullet to the face.
Mar 5th, 2010, 08:59 AM
I must see this. Now.