If you haven’t heard or seen this movie you should be ashamed of yourself. In my mind without a shadow of a doubt the best movie of the year!!!! Released early in 2009, The Hurt Locker is an intense, heart pounding, thriller that will have you completely engulfed in the lives of the three main characters. In an incredible directorial performance, Kathryn Bigelow provides us with one of the best Iraq movies ever and in my opinion the Best Picture of 2009 (thankfully the Golden Globes agreed). Taking place during the early months of the post-invasion period in Iraq, Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner) becomes the new team leader of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit with the U.S. Army's Bravo Company, replacing Staff Sergeant Thompson, (Guy Pearce) a long-standing member of the team who was killed by a remote-detonated improvised explosive device (IED) in Baghdad. He joins Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), whose jobs are to communicate with their team leader via radio inside his bombsuit, and provide him with rifle cover while he examines an IED. James joins the team with team with 39 days left on their deployment. All three of the soldiers, whom we get to know very well are all complex and unique in their own way. James is a renegade for who the thrill of the dismantlement seems to be the ultimate goal regardless of the safety of his fellow team members, others on the scene or himself. On the other hand, Sanborn is by the books: he knows his place and duty and trusts others in the army to carry out theirs as well as he. Eldridge is an insecure soldier who is constantly worried that an error or misjudgment on his part will lead to the death of an innocent civilian or a military colleague. While the three members face their own internal issues, they have to be aware of any person at the bomb sites, some of who may be bombers themselves. James is kind of the unpredictable fascinating soldier who seems as if he’s indifferent to death. He recklessly plunges his unit into a deadly game of urban combat. For example, at one point James disregarding all protocol, refuses to send in a robot first and approaches a deadly car bomb while taking off his protective suit and gear, claiming, “If I am going to die, I am going to die comfortable.” The three men go on a roller coaster ride living on the edge of a deadly game with more consequences than they can imagine as both they and the audience learn a lot more about what makes these men who they are. Renner (James) does an excellent job of portraying this indifference to death. As the audience, we begin to understand his need for the thrill of defusing bombs. The second he gets home and things are boring again we want to go back to Iraq almost as badly as he does. I think this plays into one of Bigelow’s best accomplishments with this film. James hates the dull life outside of his job and as the part of the audience so did I. Every time they were not out in the field in a situation, I eagerly anticipated the next outing. I had heard great things about this film before I had seen it and I was not at all disappointed. I am just happy that the Golden Globes have recognized not only the film but Bigelow’s work as well. I can only hope the Oscars do as well.
Sex: some talk about it, drinking is involved
Violence: bombs and war violence
Language: plenty of cursing, drinking is involved
Run time: 131 min
Grade: 5 Stars