The Hurt Locker Short Review (3.5 0f 5)

hurt-locker-1      I’ve seen the subjects in The  Hurt Locker covered before in other war movies and I saw how it would end as soon as the ‘War is a drug’ statement lingered on the screen, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it.


Kathryn Bigelow keeping the movie on track (rimshot)...

Kathryn Bigelow keeping the movie on track (rimshot)...



It was for the most part entertaining, with a few scenes that threatened to derail the whole movie, but Kathryn Bigelow (the director) managed to right the film and get it back on track. There were a few  really good scenes scattered throughout the movie and it’s all tied together by Jeremy Renner’s performance as Staff Sgt. William James, whose job is to defuse/deactivate bombs. Bigelow has always been a competent director… Near Dark is still one of the better vampire movies and Strange days was interesting, but occasionally some of her movies come off as a little stale. There were moments of that in this one where a few scenes felt like they should have been shortened if not deleted entirely.

yjb0o.jpg       The movie opens in 2004 Iraq with Sgt. Sanborn’s (Anthony Mackie) unit assisting Sergeant Matt Thompson (a Guy Pearce cameo) in defusing a bomb. They are 38 days from shipping out of country and don’t want to take any unnecessary risks that will get someone killed. The scene illustrates ‘What Can Happen’ in these kinds of situations and by the end of the scene a  replacement is needed for Thompson.


Sanborn and James...

Sanborn and James...

In comes Will James, a risk taking bomb specialist that has defused more than 800 bombs. He enjoys doing what he does and he’s good at it. His needless risk taking is what puts him at odds with Sanborn, who was seemingly more  comfortable with Thompson.

The events in the movie unfold somewhat similarly to The Big Red One, another war movie, where there seems to be a random collection of everyday events in the lives of military people. There is a bit more that ties all of these events together however. I think some of the subplots that the filmmakers take time to cultivate never pay off in the end.


Chritian Camargo as Eldridge

There is a third character, Specialist Owen Eldridge, that is presented as paranoid and almost cowardly, who is being consulted by a military psychiatrist/physician (Christian Camargo). That part of the story never really materializes and everything that is built up about this character is unnecessary to the his fate in the film. It was almost like a red herring.


Jeremy Renner is getting plenty of Oscar talk about his performance in The Hurt Locker and deservedly so, but it’s a fairly understated role. People in James’ line of work need to have a level head and, for the most part, that is the way his character is presented. Anthony Mackie also did a good job as his distrusting fellow officer.

Guy Pearce as Thompson

Guy Pearce as Thompson

There were a few noteable actors that made cameos (along with Pearce; Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, and Lost’s Evangeline Lilly who I didn’t recognize immediately).

Not a scene from the movie.

Evangeline Lilly... Not a scene from the movie. Just an excuse to post this pic.

I heard someone say that their appearances were more distracting than anything else (like Ted ‘Sam Malone’ Danson appearing in Saving Private Ryan)…

Ralph Fiennes as

Ralph Fiennes as Contractor Team Leader

But I think Bigelow placed them in some of the ‘disposable’ character roles so that you wouldn’t feel like they were one of the Redshirts beaming down in Star Trek. There was a relevance to them even if they only appeared briefly.


The cinematography was something that stood out above maybe all else in the film. There were a lot of ‘macro’ shots in the movie, concentrating on small details. The first explosion in the movie was beautiful if a bomb going off can be called that. There was a moment of  slo-mo as the bomb detonates and a shot of pebbles rising off the ground from the shockwave that was just incredible. I don’t know who the cinematographer was but he/she maybe should up for consideration for awards just like Renner. 

In between the ‘good stff’ there were afew scenes in the movie that were downright awkward and hard to watch that took me right out of the movie. One was with a kid named ‘Beckham’ and his soccer ball; another was where Will James takes a ‘ride’ at Sanborn’s expense. I felt a little emberrassment for the actors. It wasn’t a perfect movie by any means and might have even been a little unfair to our military personnel. The 3 main characters presented in this movie have deep psychological problems. One is practically on the verge of a nervous breakdown the entire movie, another contemplates murdering a fellow officer, and the lead is a reckless adrenaline junkie who goes out of his way to make sure the situation is as dangerous as he can possibly make it. Is there not one stable person in the military in Hollywood’s eyes? The fit of paranoia that James goes into over Beckham’s situation/fate in the movie nearly derailed the movie for me. They did manage to  look like they knew what they were doing, though, but that entire episode was very illogically carried out, especially since these guys are military personnel  and are supposed to have reason for their actions (you’ll have to see it to know what I’m talking about).

This isn't from the movie either... But it could've been.

This isn't from the movie either... But it should've been.

       There was just a lot of material that could have been trimmed that could have made this a more focused film. I wish all movies didn’t run over 2 hours now. It would some of them if they were whittled down to 90 minutes like the old standard running times. This one didn’t warrant the 2 plus hours. Kingdom of Heaven… Saving Private Ryan… Blackhawk Down…. Three Kings… Yes. The Hurt locker. No…. All in all, I like it more about it than I disliked, so 3.5 of 5 _______s.


One Response to “The Hurt Locker Short Review (3.5 0f 5)”

  1. […] The Hurt Locker Short Review (3.5 0f 5) August 2009 5 […]

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