by DAVID KERN
DIRECTED BY: Kathryn Bigelow
WRITTEN BY: Mark Boal
RELEASED BY:First Light Productions
CAST: Jeremy Renner, Guy Pearce, Brian Geraghty, Ralph Fiennes
When discussing Kathryn Bigelow’s critically acclaimed new film, The Hurt Locker, film critics - and cinephiles in general - have repeatedly taken the time to point out that it is not like any of the other, mostly sub par, war films that have taken on the controversial subject of the particular war in which we are currently engaged. However, I would argue that, except perhaps as a point of reference, such comparisons are mostly superfluous, perhaps even insulting to what might just be one of the finest war films made in recent memory. The Hurt Locker is a film about war, war in general, that is, and only about a specific war inasmuch as it takes place in a specific place and at a specific time. It is not a polemic for or against the war, the men who started the war, or even the men who wage the war. This is not a political film. However, The Hurt Locker is a film about war in general, about what war does to people, about what makes war horrible and terrifying and glorious and addicting all at once. It suggests that war is a drug and introduces you to the people who can’t escape it’s firm grasp.
Of course, since it does take place in Iraq, in 2004, Bigelow’s (Point Break) film is a thoroughly modern war movie about thoroughly modern warfare. It’s fast-paced, abundantly visceral and, naturally, action packed. From the opening shot (of a motorized bot exploring the rubble-filled streets of Baghdad for bombs) to the final frames, Locker is a film in constant motion, which is appropriate since it’s characters are never in one place for long, and when they are they certainly aren’t sitting still. Viewers discover quickly that staying still for long is dangerous, very dangerous.
Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (played superbly by Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) are Army specialists (Delta Company) highly skilled at identifying and diffusing bombs and I.E.D.s. They are the best of the best and they are charged with providing safety and peace-of-mind for the thousands of soldiers who patrol the city’s streets, not to mention the many civilians who make their home there. Of course, that charge provides them with little peace-of-mind, even less safety, and very little thanks, especially when brash Staff Sgt. William “wild man” James takes over as squad leader. James, played with deep complexity by Jeremy Renner, has his own way of doing things, a way that makes sanity and safety extremely hard to come by for the careful Sanborn and the nervous Eldridge. Of course, James is good at what he does - great, even - and his way is law. Quickly Sanborn and Eldridge discover that that way isn’t exactly “by the book” and are faced with the difficulty of obeying orders with which they wholeheartedly disagree. Read the rest of this entry »