Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The Hurt Locker
Like most people, I didn’t see The Hurt Locker before the Oscars. And like most people, I watched The Hurt Locker the very next day. Was it Oscar-worthy? I don’t know. If I’d seen it before the Oscars, I don’t think I would have voted for it. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fantastic movie. It’s just hard to believe Hurt Locker was better than the other 47 movies in the best picture category.
If The Hurt Locker succeeded in one thing, it’s that it opened my eyes to the chaos and terror that’s happening in Iraq. Aside from a family friend serving overseas, I haven’t really been touched by this war. In my ignorance, I picture Iraq as a big desert with some stone buildings here and there. The Hurt Locker puts everything into perspective. We see every aspect of Iraq, from the deserts, to the cities, to the small homes that look surprisingly like suburban American homes. And the crazy part is that there’s a war right outside these homes. The entire movie I just kept thinking, “Man, it’d be really crazy if Jeremy Renner was disarming a bomb in my front yard. Would I help him or just keep playing Mario?” But if you live in Iraq, that’s life.
Jeremy Renner plays Staff Sergeant William James, an expert bomb technician. He’s reckless and loves a thrill. In fact, the movie begins with a quote that explains William perfectly. “Battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” Williams loves running up to a bomb in the middle of crossfire, with his radio off, waving firecrackers. A typical technician goes above and beyond to ensure his own safety. Therefore, James is a cool character, and keeps the audience on their toes. Not to sound cliché, but I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire movie. James encounters other threats on several different missions that keep the movie roaring along. Each scene is more intense than the one preceding it. It’s a longer than average movie but you don’t really notice. In fact, the ending kind of comes out of nowhere and honestly I was left wanting a little more.
I don’t really know anything about battle, but The Hurt Locker feels very authentic. When William disarms a bomb, we get in close and see how he does it. But it’s not flashy, sweaty, cut-the-blue-wire kind of stuff; it’s meticulous and slow. In fact, just from watching him work, I could probably disarm a bomb myself. (So, I got that goin’ for me.) The emotions are all authentic too. William is calm but there’s something else under that cool exterior. His teammate Sergeant Sanborn is a good soldier that does everything by the book. On the outside he’s frustrated with William’s antics, but deep down he’s intrigued by his lack of fear and questions his own motivations.
The Hurt Locker is a really good movie. It's a relatively small and simple story but that's what I like about it. It's not a Band of Brothers war epic. It's more personal and thus more authentic. It’s eye-opening and pretty disturbing in parts, but remains an enjoyable movie.