Director Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq war movie ignores almost the usual trappings of the by now well traveled modern desert warfare genre in the process accomplishes something almost none of those other movies was capable of: It’s good. Maybe it’s because she’s successfully welded all the harrowing excitement of speed to all the confusion and uncertainty of life in Iraq. Or maybe it’s because she seems less interested in the political implications of everything that’s going on in the country than she is in what being there is like for the soldiers whose story she’s telling. Whatever the reason The Hurt Locker is unlike anything else you’ve ever seen, a wrenching rush of adrenaline set in a never-ending cycle of occupation and struggle and ever-increasing tension.
This is a great movie – probably the best war movie I have seen in years. The Hurt Locker focuses almost entirely on an army bomb disposal unit. Working with explosive booby traps is hard enough, but the characters in the film need to do this while being surrounded by a population that is equal parts friend and enemy. Sergeant James ignores protocols, refuses to use the relatively safe robots, preferring instead to suit up and walk straight into danger where, he disarms the bomb and gets the whole thing over with. “You’re a wild man,” declares one of his superiors. His team thinks he’s worse than that, they think he’s going to get them all killed. William doesn’t really see himself in either light, and figuring out exactly where his mind goes is one subplot of the film as his team drives from one bomb to the.
This movie is brilliantly directed and wonderfully acted. Every second is taut and thrilling even though Bigelow’s approach to the material seems primarily to be showing men at work.
The Hurt Locker is a magnificent film; moving and gritty and thrilling not by coldly calculated design, but simply because it is. Taking a journey through our soldiers world of dust and desert and bullets and smoke has never felt so honest, so tense, so flat out scary. Test your mettle, watch it without flinching. See The Hurt Locker.