Reviews & Previews - The Hurt Locker

Posted on Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 06:00 PM

The Hurt Locker

By: S. Tran

Starring:  Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Running Time: 131 minutes
Rated: R

Boom Goes The Dynamite

So if you watched the Oscars you probably heard that this film took the award for best picture of the year, beating our Avatar. If you told me you knew that would happen because you saw the movie I would probably call you a liar because apparently very few people saw this. According to the stats I could find the movie made under $15 million. This was probably less than James Cameron spent on pizza pockets for his computer animation crew. Movies that made more than The Hurt Locker last year: Jennifer's Body and The Jonas Brothers in concert.

I missed its initial run but caught it on DVD. The movie is extremely well done and the bomb defusing scenes offer plenty of tension, but I didn't see where it offered anything so new or innovative that it deserved the Oscar for best picture.

The story centers around Renner as Sgt. James, a bomb disposal technician working in Iraq with his escort crew Sanborn (Mackie) and Eldridge (Geraghty). James joins the crew after the prior bomb tech is killed on the job and immediately begins to rub his team members the wrong way due to his reckless and unconventional behaviour. Used to the deliberate and careful attitude of their deceased teammate, Sanborn and Eldridge are confused about how to handle James, who is either fearless or stupid.

Bigelow does a very good job setting up the scenes and drawing as much tension as possible from them. In so many movies directors rely on some stupid music and cheesy countdown timer to make the bomb scenes more exciting. Bigelow understands that the suspense is heightened when you don't know exactly what might happen and when. That is the whole fear with a bomb, the unknown, the knowledge that the end could come suddenly and without warning. Each time James is taking a bomb apart you are forced to sit on the edge of your seat, or if you are like my wife, hide your eyes with your hand.

Unfortunately for the movie I didn't find much else in it that really stood out. The quiet, reflective scenes did not pack the same kind of power as the action pieces. Subplots did not add much to the film and some scenes looked like the got cut on the editing floor as characters were introduced never to be seen again. We learn a little about the characters but not so much that we really feel we know them much better than when the film began. With the exception of James we don't really know anyone's background.

The actors all give very good performances. Renner was nominated for an Oscar and he is given plenty of screen time as well as some moments to show some depth. He does a very good job but the small scenes, except for maybe the one near the end just felt a bit fake and forced to me, as if they were in the film just to give him the chance to show his softer side.

Still the movie is very good and is definitely worth a look even if you don't agree with the Oscar win afterward.


3.5 stars out of 5.

S. Tran also writes at, and


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