The Hurt Locker

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This is the first movie I’ve seen this year in the theaters that has lived up to the hype. You must understand though, I don’t waste my time or money watching the “summer blockbusters”. I don’t call a never-ending stream of special effects loosely held together by a thin plot with minimal character development and even worse acting, worthy cinema. I call it obnoxious. So I didn’t waste time with “Transformers 2”, “Terminator Salvation”, or “GI Joe”. I did see “Star Trek” only to be kicked in the gut when I realized that JJ Abrams has singlehandedly wrecked the Star Trek Universe by significantly altering time lines. My continuing disappointment with the blockbuster, with the exception of Pixar’s “Up”, led me back to my beloved art film. I saw “Tyson” (OK), “Away We Go” (OK), “Departures” (Great) and now “The Hurt Locker”.

The Hurt Locker is a triumph in independent cinema. Director Kathryn Bigelow manages to combine key aspects of an art film with those of an action flick and strike the perfect balance between the two. This is not an easy task but Bigelow makes it look easy. In summary, the film is about an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team disarming bombs on the streets of Baghdad in 2004. You also get to see the intense personal interaction amongst the team members which is just as gripping as the bombs themselves. The performances by Jeremy Renner (SSgt. William James) and Anthony Mackie (Sgt. JT Sanborn) are exceptionally good. Never did I see two actors reciting lines off of a page. Everything felt real. Brian Geraghty (Specialist Owen Eldridge) rounds out the trio playing basically the same un-sure of himself, not as tough as the others character he’s played in movies like “The Guardian and “We Are Marshall”.

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Now I’ve been known to bash the Army in the past being ex-Air Force and all but I gained a newfound respect for the Army guys that work EOD in this film. The focus and concentration required for hours on end in the blazing heat is unbelievable. Not to mention the simple fact that they walk towards a bomb when everyone else is walking or running away. Every encounter with an IED is life or death; no in-between. Yeah, it’s brave and patriotic but it’s also a solid mix of crazy and cowboy that makes it oh, so American.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and give it
3 1/2 out of 4 stars. I found myself putting my hands over my mouth several times because of how tense some of the scenes got. For anyone else that has ever worn the uniform of our nation’s military, this is a must see. For those of you that haven’t been affiliated with the military, see it – it’s so easy to forget what your neighbor’s son, your cousin, or some other relation might be doing “over there” on a day to day basis.

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I had some teenagers sitting behind me that obviously didn’t appreciate the film and found it boring. They came in 20 minutes late with the goal of just killing time. I gave them the once over while the credits rolled. Of the four of them not a single one would last 4 minutes doing what those guys in the film had to contend with. In the St. Louis area, “The Hurt Locker” is playing at The Tivoli and The Plaza Frontenac. I saw it at a Wehrenberg chain but they are no longer carrying the film.

Finally, if Kathryn Bigelow is not nominated for a Best Director Oscar this year, it will be a travesty of justice.