The Hurt Locker
After half a decade in the wilderness Kathryn Bigelow retreats, re-troops and returns with an excoriating vision of the war in Iraq as seen through the eyes of one particularly mental member of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit (EOD).
It’s the early months of the post-invasion period in Iraq; Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) becomes the new team leader of the EOD unit with the US Army’s Bravo Company. He joins Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), who are to be his right hand men in the high stakes game of bomb defusal. Unlike his predecessor James plays fast and loose with protocol and tension soon arises between him and his men.
What follows is less a tour of duty than a trip into hell for James and his more highly-strung platoon. Slowly and with great detail Bigelow orchestrates a frenzied, chaotic vision of war. James and his men encounter a confused British private military company (led with great relish by Ralph Fiennes), idiotic generals, disgruntled locals and of course bombs and suicide bombers of all descriptions.
Based, like HBO’s TV mini series Generation Kill on the accounts of a freelance writer who was embedded in Iraq, The Hurt Locker marks a major return to form for the remarkable Bigelow whose previous films include Blue Steel, Point Break and the brilliant Strange Days. Playing with the western genre convention by placing a gifted but insane renegade in a sea of hysteria, Bigelow creates an unromantic vision of modern warfare, which is both, muscular and visceral while making us question just how close such heroisms are to lunacy.
Though overlong, occasionally labourious, repetitive and beholden of a slightly off putting pumped up admiration for the troops, The Hurt Locker is as fine a vision of modern combat as w are going to get this close to the events depicted. No one does action set-ups and pay-offs better than Bigelow and The Hurt Locker is full of the monumental, the incidental and the jaw dropping. The ex-Mrs James Cameron also has a lot of friends who have been waiting an age for her to make this film so there are also a healthy bunch of cameos from among others Guy Pearce, Fiennes and David Morse. Cinematographer Barry Akroyd (best known for his work with Ken Loach and Paul Greengrass) does a remarkable job in keeping things fluid and Sam Raimi’s regular editor Bob Murawski creates coherence through the sand storms and flying rubble.
General release from Fri 28 Aug. (15) 130min.