Plot – During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates because of his maverick way of handling his work – The Hurt Locker.
Director – Kathryn Bigelow
Starring – Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
Genre – War | Drama | Thriller
Released – 2008
If you liked: American Sniper, Zero Dark 30, Argo
The Hurt Locker‘s limited worldwide release and tiny budget made it somewhat of an outsider at that year’s Oscars, especially given it was up against the all-conquering Avatar. But nine months of near-unanimous praise from critics made the Academy take notice and David slew Goliath, winning six Oscars including best picture and best director.
Killing off the film’s biggest-name star in the first five minutes, The Hurt Locker excellently mixes the tropes of thriller and horror to keep you on edge and invites you to speculate on the rate of survival of the remaining cast. Doing justice to those who served in the Iraq conflict, Renner, Mackie and Geraghty gave solid if slightly forgettable performances. I can say the same for the supporting cast, Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce and Evangeline Lilly pop up in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them roles. It was a pleasant surprise to see them, yet leaves slightly disappointed that these talented actors were so underutilised.
The strongest selling point of The Hurt Locker was the superb direction from Kathryn Bigelow. Employing a hand-held filming technique and sharp editing, the movie chases a level of realism usually reserved for documentaries. Bigelow’s use of sound is also extremely thrilling. They say that “you never hear the bullet that kills you” and here it is very much the case. Gunshots and bomb blasts take the soldiers and audience by surprise, reverberating around the screen long after the carnage. You never feel completely safe, knowing one wrong set you could be in the sights of a sniper or blown sky-high by some hidden explosives.
The Hurt Locker may not have the re-watch factor of other war movies, but it remains an excellent piece of cinema that boasts skilled direction, cinematography and sound editing. My only regret is I never had the chance to see this film on the big screen with surround sound.