This “Locker” Hurts So Good
Just when we thought the sun was about to set on a very average summer for movies, along comes “The Hurt Locker,” a film that has been around since last year but was picked up for distribution and eventually arrived at our local theaters. And what an unforgettable film it is.
“A Day in the Life of a Bomb Disposal Unit” would be its lengthier but more precise title. But no matter, “The Hurt Locker” is easily the best-executed Iraqi-themed war film, and is likely one of the finest depictions of the horror that is combat ever made.
Eschewing political agendas or heroic posturing of any kind, the film strips down the Bravo team’s duty to its essence-sniffing out and diffusing IED’s, bombs, and C4 explosives wherever they happen to be, buried in the dusty streets, inside an abandoned car or, even more ghastly, strapped to a live human being.
The kicker about this “locker” is that it’s directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow (“Point Break,” “K-9: The Widowmaker”), who sets a new standard for filming the grit and gore of war. Gone is the cynical sensationalism of films like “Jarhead” or even “Platoon,”-which was pioneering for its day. Here Bigelow constructs seven gripping, harrowing scenes. One of the best of these involves a sniper ambush that is as tense as it is patient in its resolution. The film brilliantly maintains a sense of humanity despite the frightening clock-ticking backdrop of the disturbing and confusing who’s-the-enemy-and-who’s-an-ally streets of Baghdad.
Of the lesser-known actors involved, Jeremy Renner’s performance as the fearless and reckless team leader Sgt. James is a penetrating study of a man who lives for the danger of his duty. His tactics occasionally draw the ire of comrades Sgt. Sandborn (Anthony Mackie), and Spc. Eldridge (Brian Geraghty). A few more familiar actors show up but these cameos actually distract somewhat from the film’s reality show atmosphere.
Not for the squeamish, but nonetheless more suspenseful than blatantly violent, “The Hurt Locker” is a hardcore depiction of modern war and the brave soldiers who fight while quietly but assuredly begging the question: War, what is it good for?
One thing’s for sure, in the hands of a great director, war can make for a memorable film experience. Consider the summer saved by “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “(500) Days of Summer.”
Rated R for war violence and language.