Posted: 06/25/2009

 

The Hurt Locker

(2008)

by Kelsey Aicher




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Once again Kathryn Bigelow has proved capable of directing a testosterone-driven action film with enough heart to hold the interest of both genders.

The Hurt Locker follows three members of the U.S. Army’s bomb disposal team: Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), the young coward, Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthon Mackle), the cautious professional, and Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner), the reckless veteran. Their story begins when James takes over as head of the bomb disposal team. Eldridge and Sanborn are forced to comply with their new leader who has a way of doing thing his own way rather than following procedure.

James seems to have no regard for danger, which makes Sanborn uncomfortable and Eldridge curious. The two don’t take to James right away, but with each mission they carry out, they become closer. James offers something the other two didn’t have prior to his arrival: fun. The audience watches the relationships grow, and before their eyes, James evolves from a reckless thrill-seeker to a caring human being and friend.

Of course, life isn’t all about the military for Sergeant James. He has a wife and child back home that frequent his thoughts. When he develops a relationship with a native boy, he is reminded again that he has a son of his own that he should be spending time with. In the end, it comes down to his family or the thrill of war.

The insubordination of Staff Sergeant James seems unrealistic for a soldier who has been promoted to such a high position in the U.S. Army. One would have to wonder how defying orders would lead to promotion. Nonetheless, he is an intriguing character to follow who the audience can’t help but grow attached to.

Aside from questionable military behaviors of James, The Hurt Locker depicts what life is like for the armed forces in Iraq. Street vendors line up outside military camps. Innocent civilians are killed for no reason. Suicide bombers die for their causes. Shooting, bombing, burning, exploding. This film is chockfull of action to keep anyone entertained. And if that’s not enough to hold attention, the witty dialogue among the male soldiers is sure to inspire at least a couple bursts of laughter.

The cinematography is typical to modern action film trends with the frequent use of the hand-held camera, made popular by the Bourne movies. What sets it apart from the rest is the little cinematic “treats” scattered throughout. At the beginning, there is a shot lasting only a few seconds where the dirt and pebbles fly into the air in slow motion. There is an unexpected beauty in that brief moment. It is moments like that one that show the love and effort that was put into making this movie, and that makes it all the more successful.

The Hurt Locker enters theaters nationwide on June 26. It is an entertaining action film that everyone is sure to enjoy.

Kelsey Aicher is a screenwriting major at Columbia College Chicago.



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