The Hurt Locker
Screenplay by Mark Boal
Directed by Katheryn Bigelow
The Hurt Locker follows a U.S. Army EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) team in Iraq in 2004. This team deals with defusing bombs on a daily basis, but that's only part of it. They have to continually confront people, including children, who could be suicide bombers, cars that may or may not be booby-trapped, and spectators who watch the bomb squad doing their work - spectators who very well could be snipers or equipped to detonate the bomb remotely.
Anthony Mackie plays J.T. Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge is played by Brian Geraghty. They have just lost their team member and as much as they know that rotation is part of military life, they have a hard time adjusting to their new member, Staff Sergeant Will James, who arrives to take over for their fallen comrade.
Staff Sergeant James, played by Jeremy Renner, is a modern-day cowboy, a gunslinger who comes into town to clean up the town. In the traditional Western, the gunslinger would have had two six-shooters as his weapons of choice; in James' world, his weapons are his mind-blowing ability to defuse a bomb and his self-confidence. He is fearless, so much that he appears practically careless when he dons his protective gear and saunters down a deserted Iraqi street. He is supremely cocky, something that immediately alienates him from the rest of his team and he sometimes doesn't play by the rules. At first his teammates don't like him, but what's worse is that they don't trust him, something that could be deadly.
Director Katheryn Bigelow is masterful in building suspense; thankfully, she doesn't fall back into the old Hollywood tradition of inputting false, contrived subplots or unnecessary dialogue. You can go several minutes in this movie without any dialogue, or at least it feels that way. Mark Boal, who wrote the screenplay, was embedded in a bomb squad in Baghdad, which accounts for the movie's authenticity. Although the movie says it stars Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce, their roles are so small as to be almost cameos, but it's not detrimental at all. Mackie, Geraghty, and Renner are magnificent and carry this movie just fine.
I know that some of my friends didn't care for this movie, and actually I can understand that. There isn't much of a story line, and The Hurt Locker plays more like a documentary than a traditional movie. But believe me, you don't need any more tension than there already is in this movie.
Bigelow took the risk of presenting a movie without much of a plot as opposed to putting in a false one, and I for one applaud her for it. As a result, there aren't a lot of surprises; you know who's going to die pretty much throughout the movie. But to me, it's enough to watch these soldiers and their herculean efforts to save peoples lives on a 24/7 basis under unbearable stress.
The Hurt Locker is a film I think everyone should watch. Maybe if it gets enough exposure during the Oscar run, it'll get the attention it deserves.