Tuesday, March 02, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hurt Locker

Number of Nominations: 9 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor - Jeremy Renner, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Achievement in Film Editing, Achievement in Sound, Achievement in Sound Editing)
Availability in the US: DVD, Blu-ray

As the first film about the Iraq War to garner major Academy Awards attention, The Hurt Locker is sure to cause its fair share of controversy; the film is not, however, an opinion piece. The Hurt Locker follows the brave men of Bravo Company whose prime directive is isolating and defusing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). After their original bomb-defuser gets tragically blown-up with less than a month left in his deployment, SSG William James (Jeremy Renner) is sent in to finish the rotation. James is a bit of a loose cannon who enjoys doing things his own way, which is a bit unnerving to the other members of his team and ultimately could have catastrophic consequences for them.

The concept of following an elite bomb-defusing crew is reminiscent of the excellent Oscar-nominated Israeli film Beaufort, and fans of that film will recognize some of the same outcomes. Jeremy Renner does a good job as James, and keeps you guessing whether he will survive from minute to minute. At one point, his emotions get the better of him and he nearly has a complete breakdown. He is particularly effective in the scenes where he is by himself either trying to understand some new IED or brooding over recent plot developments.

The plot is well laid out and, despite being somewhat of an unoriginal concept, still manages to avoid being too predictable. The other most notable quality of the film is its cinematography. The mise en scene is spot-on; not a frame goes to waste. War films sometimes lack good photography and tend to contain too many quick cuts and not enough deliberate, brooding camera shots. The Hurt Locker manages to intersperse both for a war film that feels more like a drama about people than an action film.

Grade: B

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