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The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker (2008)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
Genre: Documentary style war drama

Premise: Shot in hand held camera documentary style on the streets and desert of Jordan. The film chronicles a team of three soldiers in Bravo company, who's mission is bomb removal and detonation during the Iraq War.

Review: If you think war is the ultimate expression of waste and achieves nothing but misery...than this film is for you. The Hurt Locker is not a war buddy film and not a CG action film that glories killing and war. Just the opposite, this film endeavors to show the utter chaos and futility of war.

The film follows the last couple weeks of a tour of duty rotation of three EOD soldiers, explosive ordinance disposal. Their job is to deactivate, remove or explode IED explosives left as booby traps by Iraq insurgents. A dangerous job.

The film was shot in Jordan which lends an ultra realistic feel to this fine film. The littered desolate streets look like Iraq during the war.

The three lead actors are relatively unknown, all give naturalist portrayal of soldiers. Nothing is over the top or hammed up. This is a smaller budget indie film, but don't think that means it doesn't look good...it looks real, it feels real. Of all the Iraq war films I've seen this one is the closest to giving a feeling of what it must have been like to be there on those foreboding streets where any of the locals could be holding a remote control bomb.

This won a slew of Academy Awards for 2010 including:
Best Motion Picture
Best Achievement in Directing (Kathryn Bigelow who was the first woman director to win)
Best Writing, Original Screenplay (the screenwriter, Mark Boal was a journalist who went along with several bomb crews during the Iraq war)
Best Achievement in Film Editing

The beauty of the story is that there is no real story. The lead in the three men team is killed and is replaced with a hot shot Ranger (Jeremy Ranger) who's an adrenaline junkie and constantly puts the other two men in danger with his risk taking.

Anthony Mackie plays a soldier who's the coordinator of communications. He's seen too much stupid stuff happening during his time in Iraq. Despite his common sense he has to follow the orders of the Ranger. The scene he does towards the end of the film where he says he is sick of Iraq was powerful.

The junior member of the team is Brian Geraghty his job is to take the point and to keep an eye out for hostiles. He's a bit green and just wants to get home in one piece. In some ways he's like we would be if we were thrust into this hostile environment.

The Hurt Locker does an excellent job of showing just how chaotic the Iraq war was. It doesn't preach, it doesn't tug at the heart strings, it doesn't pull out any of those old archetype characters. It's refreshing. If you don't like war, you should see this film. It's not perfect but it's the best Iraq war film out there.