Theatrical Review: The Hurt Locker

It’s 2004 and the setting is Baghdad as we’re being introduced to an elite Bomb Squad of Bravo Company as they’re getting ready to do what they do best, take out any bombs. Unfortunately, tragic results ensue, and the two men left, Sanborn and Eldridge, with only 38 days left in their rotation, get a new squad leader, Staff Sergeant Will James…

The only problem is James really comes alive with the action that he faces, and goes the extra distance to get his job done, much to the dissatisfaction of the men underneath him.

The Hurt Locker just became the best movie of the year for me of those that I’ve seen thus far. It’s also the return to the big screen by director Kathryn Bigelow, who hasn’t had a full length feature in theatres since K-19: The Widowmaker and who previously helmed such movies as Strange Days, Point Break and the vampire classic, Near Dark, and it’s just a stunning return to form. Delivering over two hours of tension right from the get-go, yet still being a full and satisfying character piece, and a great showcase for it’s lead actor Jeremy Renner.

There’s no Hollywood politics in this piece, or any Hollywood military cliches with any of the characters, and that’s extremely welcome. Bigelow isn’t afraid to let a scene go on for as long as it needs to to get the right atmosphere and tension, and the way this all unfolds is just like a good book, with little bits to tease and inform at first and fuller character bits coming along the way, until it’s final resolution.

Jeremy Renner has been one of these guys who’s been out there for a long time (I guess most recently seen in the TV series The Unusuals) doing good solid work more as a supporting guy more than anything else. The Hurt Locker is a big breakthrough for him and honestly, I hope he gets remembered for this when Oscar nominations roll about, he’s just that good in delivering this character that has way more to himself than just what his surface actions show. He’s backed up with fine work by both Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty as Sanborn and Eldridge, and though they are the support here, neither actor or character gets shortchanged. Also in the cast are small roles by some bigger names, Guy Pearce, David Morse, Ralph Fiennes and Evangeline Lilly are all in here doing good “bit” work that does nothing to take away from Renner, Mackie and Geraghty.

I know this one has been out there for awhile now, but only recently has it come to a theatre near enough to me that made me want to go see it. It may not be in a lot of areas out there, but if it is, I’d urge anyone to seek this out. It’s solidly engaging for it’s entire time, a great return to the big screen from director Kathryn Bigelow and a star-making turn from actor Jeremy Renner. Like I said at the top, already for me, the best movie of the year and of course this is highly, highly recommended.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

06. August 2009 by Darren Goodhart
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