Give up? Answer: The Hurt Locker.
But like sandboxes and pooping… The Hurt Locker can be a little bit of fun.
If you think about it, sand is fun to build stuff with, but in essence, there’s nothing grand about it; it’s just tiny rocks. And pooping…let’s face it, is sometimes an inconvenience, but at the very least, gives you a well-deserved break from your job, day-to-day stessors, and like all us typical Americans, overeating. The Hurt Locker is fun at points, but there’s nothing too deep about it.
And in comparison to pooping – a break from your daily “duties” , but might be a bit of “a waste” [look at that! A double pun!]. Watcher beware.
THE BEAR ESSENTIALS
US Army Sergeant First Class Will James (Jeremy Renner) joins Bravo Company in Iraq, having only a month or so left till they are relieved. Sgt. James is a bomb disposal expert sent to replace former Bravo leader Sgt. Matt Thompson (Guy Pearce). Sgt. James’ “cowboy approach” to bomb disposal clashes poorly with squad members Sgt. JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Spc. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty ); whose main objective it to return home in one piece.
Don’t be fooled by my ‘poop’ simile, The Hurt Locker, is brilliant in several ways. One particular example of brilliance lies within the character of SFC Will James, who (somehow) operates the battlefield with a searing focus. He resembles Tom Sizemore’s character in Black Hawk Down*; someone not overly concern with death, but of getting the job done, by whatever means possible. The role of “The Bomb Specialist,” in his huge, protective suit resembles an astronaut exploring a foreign planet. This image is one that cinematically paints an atmosphere of isolation and danger, and portrays Sgt. James as a heroic figure on a perilous mission. From this, one can easily tell that the director has a flair for the artistic [she actually spent 2 years at the San Francisco Art Institute as a painter].
The second dose of “the spectacular” comes in the overall “vibe” of the film. Director Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days, Point Break) gives us a glimpse of Iraq without the politics; a battle on simple terms – Man vs. his fear of death. The bombs that they are there to defuse are the very similar the the bombs they carry with themselves day-to-day through the war… either you adapt/disconnect the wiring, or you eventually detonate.
Where this movie fails (in this reviewer’s opinion) is mainly in Bigelow’s artistic styling, lack of supporting details and character traits.
Bigelow (the ex-wife of “Action film great” James Cameron) is fair, not great, as an action director. Artistic action, such as Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, masterfully conveys depth and is clearly, poetry in motion. Ridley Scott (Gladiator, G.I. Jane), on the other hand, is a veteran director whose directorial wizardry gives the eyes the full extent of light and motion, without overload. Bigelow performs nicely with scenes involving tention, but nothing beyond what one might catch in an episode of 24.
At one point in the film, while under enemy fire, the camera fixates – in slow motion – on a bullet shell as it discharges from the sniper rifle, spins in the air and bounces on the desert sand. The next shot, showed both the sniper and spotter, as the spotter looks through his binoculars and utters, “You got him [the bad-guy].” With the consistently mounting tension of the scene, most viewers would be clamoring for the result… for the bloody aftermath of that final shot… Bigelow just handed us a heaping handful of failure. Word verification of a kill? Only? (Sheesh!)
Finally, (and there are certainly more concerns that reduced this film to a 6) I don’t understand the point of many of these bomb defusings. I wouldn’t think a deserted road of sand and rubble merits a soldier’s life. Certainly the main character wants to MacGyverishly defuse a record number of bombs in his extraordinary career, but don’t they have “bomb containment boxes/chambers”? Why risk life and limb over such a small thing? Why not walk up to the bomb, plant some c4 explosives on top of “the threat” and detonate (after clearing the area of bystanders/civilians of course)? Never any explanation from the film. Also, why the cumbersome and stuffy protective suit? Either way, suit or naked, you’re as good as dead if you cut the wrong wire. At least if you’re naked you would have a better chance of running to safety.
In conclusion… not a total dud, wonderful at parts, but not “explosive” enough for me. Only 2 hrs. and 7 minutes, but felt like 3.
Let us hear what you thought!
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*Kathryn Bigelow is noted for casting Tom Sizemore (i.e. Point Break, Strange Days). I didn’t know this when I made the comparison to Sgt. Will James and Tom Sizemore’s character in Black Hawk Down. This connection was made after noticing this little bit of trivia at IMDB.com. Must have been used as character model (at least in some capacity).