Saturday, August 01, 2009

"The Hurt Locker" (2009) - Movie Review

At the end of the film, Jeremy Renner as Staff Sergeant William James is standing in front of boxes of wide variety of cereal boxes in a super market. His wife asked him to get a cereal box and is waiting for him to join her at the checkout counter. He is startled by the number of brands coming up with these bazillion distinguished flavours. For a man choosing between green wire and red wire in seconds to death in the bomb squad, this should not be a tough task. But when come to that part of the travel with him to that super market, we know what he is going to do and that makes “The Hurt Locker” not predictable but intuitive of its people, the soldiers. Here comes the film which is so much intense and alerts its audience, every fraction of second in its tenure. This is one of the films to look out for in my list of best films this year.

Kathryn Bigelow directed this war film approaches a specialized unit called Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) in Iraq going around dismantling the bombs planted with a passion for viciousness by the bombers. The team of three with one bomb technician and two look outs arrives to the place in the midst of the civilian households. With hot iron in hand and the difference between a civilian and a terrorist a razor thin factor, it is a nightmare every waking and sleeping moment. The two look outs are Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), an experienced soldier and a learner in the crowd Specialist Owen Elridge (Brian Geraghty). They have lost their bomb technician and the replacement is William James. He is not show off in person but when they go to their first outing, he is a rock star. He puts on the gear and directly goes for the bomb. Sanborn suggests robot to investigate but James dismisses it.His motivation is the danger.

For a film which has so many infamous Hollywood situations of green wire, red wire, it is tense, fearful and is full of shocking surprises. The idea is simple when the film opens which is that bomb diffusing is a walking death trap. That is a no brainer and these men putting out in that situation is on the nerves of the viewers. Then the fearlessness in the reckless nature of James is heroic even in the appearance of stupidity. Yet he has survived more than 800 bombs. He is not cocky but has his methods which wrongs Sanborn. This is not the mechanics and dynamics of the team coming together. It is a study of the war and the job of it going through the soldier. It blankets them with its golden sand of high powered inspiration of bravery and courage. What James does has become his life and he does not boast about it. He silently conducts that passion. He has a collection of souvenirs which could have killed him and has an admiration for the maker in one case.

This film is dreadfully real and it is unpleasant in this ordeal. And the intent is the two hour ride into the life of these soldiers. Every situation becomes a murky instance of being sympathetic to the civilians or dumbing into the traps of a terrorist. Nothing is clear and the job of dismantling though is crystal. James feeds on it and Sanborn is unhappy, Elridge coming out from a long time leader being dead draws weird inspiration from this outlaw. There comes a situation wherein James along with Sanborn are trapped and ambushed along with others in a trench surrounded by nothingness. They scout out with the sniper becomes a game of outplaying the other. They shoot what they see and the things which are not dealt in the regular war/action film are encountered which is funny, pathetic and tragic. James is quick to react and proves to be a great leader. We are in awe of his behaviour.

Written by Mark Boal, this has spectacular visual where the details are needed. It is pivotal to the blasts which shatters through the screen the shrapnel heading for its kill. Its agenda is not pro or anti war but a psychological process of taking a bath in the job of war. Its characters are regular civilians trained for something they never thought would put to use or more so of that they would become a product of the profession. The film shot entirely in Jordan and uses Iraqi actors who fled as refuge there. One such is Christopher Sayegh who plays the English speaking Iraqi kid selling DVDs to James and he makes a mark. It is real in its location and the situation is more than real. It is deadly.

Kathryn Bigelow stuns the audience with the film which deals with the characters in a sense of calculated surgical nature. James would be a happy cow if he is left with room full of bombs and asked to diffuse without any involvement of human factor. He is stuck in this chain of the career he chose. Sanborn is another part of the regular guy who has done his deeds in the army and has endured enough to call it goods. Elridge while slowly adores James is pulled back every time with the people he cares getting killed and finally understand that James is more of a man seeking gamble of death than a put forth compassion. These people are portrayed by actors who know that inside and out. Otherwise it would have been one another war film on the psychology of the tragedy the war has posed which has become a formula than a subject. “The Hurt Locker” is a prospective best film of the year.

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