The Hurt Locker is not your standard-issue war movie. It’s more subversive and thought-provoking, much like the 2005 masterpiece Jarhead starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Here, we will be following a unit of explosives experts led by Staff Sergeant William James as they try to survive the second year of the Iraqi war. I like that we won’t be following some snipers or special ops guys. There are already a lot of movies about them. And disarming IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) is extremely dangerous and nerve-wracking. There’s also a technical aspect to this whole operation as they’re using remotely operated robots that look so cool.
I know I’m approaching this subject with a little bit more enthusiasm but I’m just trying to convince you to check out this movie. Although I shouldn’t be trying so hard as the movie is a veritable hit all over the world. The Hurt Locker is one of those war movies focusing on the incredible frailty of life in these conditions. The opening scene shows a crew trying to disarm the bomb but that’s just one of the threats they’re facing. They’re doing this in the middle of a city and danger is lurking from every fucking corner.
In fact, the first forty fucking minutes of this movie are one huge thrill ride. You wouldn’t think they’ll be able to sustain that amount of suspense and intensity for forty minutes but they fucking did it. We then get just a brief break and then the whole starts again. It’s all down to Kathryn Bigelow’s intelligent direction and excellent performances by all of the actors. Of course, Jeremy Renner is running the show here along with Anthony Mackie. I should also mention that the man who wrote the script, Mark Boal, spent time in Iraq, embedded with a real bomb squad. This is why everything in this movie feels authentic as fuck.
As you probably know, now is the time for my famous what the fuck they’re doing there in the first place but I think I’ll skip the sermon for this one. We all know what’s going on with the extraction of resources, geopolitical wargames, and the military-industrial complex. I’m prompted to this by the movie’s approach to the subject matter. The Hurt Locker is not some preachy movie trying to push a certain narrative. It just shows you how bad the situation is and leaves you to decide for yourself what’s going on. There will be action, there will be drama, but most of all, there will be suspense.
War puts people in extreme conditions and in these conditions, some things become much clearer. Your perspective changes and it illuminates certain aspects of this thing we call life. And it doesn’t matter if you’re not a soldier, the lessons remain the same. Mostly because you can apply what you’ve learned here in your life. Moving on, the movie features a mixture of slow-motion shots of the action (explosions) and hand-held shots cranking up the tension and immersion to the max. It really puts you there, in that scorching Iraqi heat.
Finally, if you’re looking for movies like The Hurt Locker do check out Kathryn’s next war movie: Zero Dark Thirty. It features the same approach, only dealing with a bit more universally controversial subject of torture.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse
Fun Stuff: The suit Jeremy Renner wears while he’s disarming the bombs is an actual, authentic bomb suit.