Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty & Guy Pierce

Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) stares down into the trunk of an abandoned car.  It's been packed full of enough explosives to destroy himself and the embassy it's parked directly in front of.  In his eyes there is a mixture of fear, excitement and admiration as he begins removing his safety gear.  "If I'm going to die, I at least wanna be comfortable".  For my money there's not enough fear in the equation!  But James is a thrill junkie and, in Bravo company's elite bomb disposal unit he has found the perfect supplier.

I think it's fair to say that not everyone is mentally equipped to handle such a task.  And for a while at least, James' squad members question whether or not he's got the goods.  His biggest critic being Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), who operates as James' eyes and ears while he works.  Sanborn believes James will eventually get them all killed with his blatant disregard for the procedures Sanborn trusts to keep them alive.  They are both aided by Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), a young man who begrudgingly admires James' skill while simultaneously fearing his bravado.   The thing is, James is good.  So good in fact, that despite their best judgements both men find it increasingly difficult to argue with him.  And after all, there's hardly any time for bickering.

Part of the reason "The Hurt Locker" is so successful is because of it's emphasis on character over premise.  Director Kathryn Bigelow keeps a steady eye on her subjects, allowing no room for politics or plot points. We feel Sanborn's fear as he begs James to give up on that car bomb.  There's a crowd gathering, after all, and anyone of them could be the bombs creator.  We also feel James' determination.  He will not be beaten, and his tunnel vision threatens the safety of himself and those around him.

Renner has been nominated for his role and deservedly so.  It's the kind of part that requires an almost rigorous attention to detail.  Renner is tasked with portraying a man whose forgotten how to be anything other than what he now is.  How does one return to such menial tasks as grocery shopping, or caring for ones wife and child when you've stared death in the face on a day to day basis?  It is certain that not all men return from war with this mindset. It is just as certain that no one returns quite the same. 


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