“ Genre: War & Western - War / Theatrical Release: 2008 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Kathryn Bigelow / Actors: Evangeline Lilly, Christopher Sayegh, Nabil Koni, Sam Spruell, Sam Redford ... / DVD released 2009-12-28 at Lions Gate Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
War films are not usually my thing as I can get quite emotional when watching from the comfort of my home what our soldiers are facing on a daily basis, my husband however enjoys them and had chosen this from our love film account and so when the DVD arrived and I tore the envelope open I was quite disappointed to see a war film fall out instead of a comedy - how wrong was I. They say don't judge a book by its cover and this was certainly the case with this film, I was gripped from beginning to end and couldn't move from my seat it really was that good.
Hurt locker is an American war film based on the Iraq war, the opening starts with Guy Pierce (you may remember him from Neighbours) leading a bomb disposal team on the streets of Iraq.
Sergeant first class William James played by Jeremy Renner leads the highly trained bomb disposal team and is not immediately liked by his team due to his almost reckless, some may say fearless ways in regards to bomb disposal although as a specialist who has successfully disarmed over 800 bombs he knows his stuff.
This film shows you the dangers faced by the soldiers during conflict and although a fictional storyline it is based on the true events captured by writer Mark Boal, a freelance writer who was embedded as a journalist in 2004 with a US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team (EOD).
William James strikes a friendship with a local DVD seller called Beckham and there is a good bit of banter between the two where you see the softer side to James character, however following a call out to a local factory he finds the boy dead with a bomb inside his body, this scene reduced me to tears as I know it is a film but I found myself really connecting with the character and seeing the devastation that surrounded him whilst trying to do his job.
Whilst the team are out trying to remove bombs from the streets they are faced with the fact snipers are also watching them and so they must be on guard at all times, during one scene they come across a car with British mercenaries (Ralph Fiennes) who have two most wanted prisoners and this scene leads to a shoot out in the desert that ends with several fatalities.
I am trying not to give too much away as this is a must watch film and was nominated for 9 Academy awards, won 6 Oscars and 6 BAFTA awards.
Director - Kathryn Bigelow
Writer - Mark Boal
Starring - Jeremy Renner as sergeant first class Wiliam James, Anthony Mackie as Sergeant JT Sanbourn and Brian Geraghty as Specialist Owen Eldridge.
Release date - 28th August 2009 (uk)
Filmed on location - Amman, Jordan
Running time - 131 mins
As far as war movies go - this one is well worth watching.
The Hurt Locker was a film I had not heard anything about nor seen a trailer for, before its release. However, shortly after its release it soon appeared to be a film a number of my friends, family and wrok colleagues were talking about and all were giving it positive reviews.
I must admit I thought that despite what people told me and despite my genuine interest in what they had to say, I still wasn't sure if this film was going to be one I would enjoy, but definitely thought it was worth a watch however, as it was described to me as more than just a war movie.
So when I spotted this in a sale in HMV priced at £3 and having a few pounds left on a gift card, I decided to purchase it.
The Hurt Locker features a bomb disposal unit stationed in Iraq and covers the situations they have to deal with. It isn't really a story as such and more like a documentary it seemed to me, not only because of the use of a hand-held camera, but also the following of the dangerous situations the characters have to deal with and revealing their emotions and feelings relation to this. Indeed it felt as if you were following the characters as they go about their business as a fly-on-the-wall documentary, which I felt added a sense of realism, rather than the escapism which often comes when watching a film.
As suspicious activity is reported, the unit move in to defuse a potential bomb. The lack of knowledge about what they are heading into, carries across very well to the viewer and creates an almost unbelievable amount of tension in many scenes. Indeed you are never quite sure what the characters are about to face, but with the knowledge that they are a bomb disposal team, you are always bracing yourself for an explosion.
The film is more of an ongoing situation than an actual story and although you are informed now and then how long the team has left to serve before they complete their tour of duty, you do find yourself thinking that the story element will be that not everyone will survive and make it to the end of the tour and you are guessing just who will be the lucky ones who make it through.
The actors in this film are largely unknown and this actually is a bonus, as you cannot really guess any character's longevity in the film based upon how famous the actor is. There are however, cameo appearances from Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce but they are don't detract from those who really steal the scenes.
The power of The Hurt Locker comes from watching the unit's dynamics evolving. When a new leader arrives and changes are made, the tension and friction which ensues as a result of this is portrayed really well and this is what makes the film so strong in my opinion, as the men struggle to come to terms with their new leader. The emotions and feelings were totally believable, although I did think it was maybe a little over the top at times for effect. However, considering it all again later after I had finished watching, I did think that maybe it wasn't over the top at all.
A number of scenes also feature the soldiers trying to integrate with the local community, with one of the most memorable scenes dealing with the reactions and feelings of a soldier on discovering that one of the local boys he has befriended is now dead with a bomb inside his stomach. His reaction is exactly as you might think, but a powerful message of desperation is portrayed as you witness his futile efforts in the moments which follow.
The Hurt Locker also makes you think. For instance you are shown how a mobile phone can act as a detonator, so when the unit see what could be a civilian on site, with a mobile phone in their hand, it raises the question, do you kill a potentially innocent person or do you take the risk and potentially allow someone to kill you and your colleagues? The fact is that everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb.
I did enjoy this film, it was different from the norm and I can understand why it got people talking. It has a sense of realism which for me is often missing when films are made about real life occurences and wars. It is packed full of tension and quite a heavy film, but I am glad I watched it and would recommend.
Released on dvd in 2009, The Hurt Locker is rated 15 and has a running time of 124 minutes.
One of the first scenes sees a bomb disposal expert lay charges on a large bomb found in the street the specialist equipment fails to work when one of the wheels of the cart fall off, and the member has to put on the bomb suit and head out towards the bomb to hand lay the charge to detonate the bomb as safe as possible, however when the rear party who is keeping watch over their comrade spot a local in a butchers shop with a mobile in his hand, they race over with seconds to spare before he ignites the bomb. Unfortunately they didn't make it in time and their friend as well as comrade is blown into the air alongside shrapnel, grit, gravel and waste which had previously littered the ground. Blood fills the mask of the suit as the man slumps to the ground, Taliban 1- American soldiers 0, will the film continue is this way or will the Americans beat the bomb in other nerve wracking situations.
The loss of their comrade and then another soldier coming in to take his place can have damaging effects on the moral of the rest of the team, with resentment flying towards the new addition for taking over their friend's role, will the professionalism stay or will it be blown like the numerous bombs they disarm daily.
The effects on this film are astonishing the way in which the film is slowed down in crucial parts to show the true extent of the explosion, gravel simply rises from the ground, rust is blown of nearby scrap vehicles and the floor simply flies upwards. The use of slowing down such a naturally fast occurrence allows for the senses to really capture the catastrophe as it unfolds. Would you be able to handle that environment as fast pace in reality, I know I sure couldn't. From scenes of mayhem and chaos emptying the streets in order to disengage the enemy and stop the bomb from causing devastating effects on the area, to moments of uncanny serenity when not a pin can be heard as the soldier picks apart the bomb, his life could be taken at any second. The film definitely allows the senses to flow and creates feelings of tension, sadness, adrenaline and in some parts joy. The colours used are accentuated to create drama and tension, the strong vibrant reds and oranges given off by the explosions in contrast to the blackened cars and the greys of buildings and dust which lines everything in the street.
Sergeant James who can proudly boast of his ability to disarm bombs with his current amount standing at 873 bombs, he shows complete disregard for anything that could threaten his life, it makes you question his sanity or whether he is brave in his methods of madness.
Not only does it cover the deep dark areas of war and how it can be damaging to lives and the environment, it also manages to portray the true friendships that are formed as a result whether that be a strengthening of the unit or the soldiers making friends with local children or alliances with local farmers. However, it also shows the price of which these friendships can cause.
The film is action packed from the opening scene, I am a big fan of military films and have seen most that have been produced I have to say that for a modern film this has to be one of my favourites, I think a lot of the new films are unrealistic and over dramatised but I don't feel this is the case with The Hurt Locker, it contains emotions, yes, but these feel more raw and realistic than put on by the actors in the film. It is believable.
Being part of a military family since birth but not really being brought up to know the ins and outs until I married my husband who I went to school with and has since joined, films like this do bring out emotions in me that perhaps other films would not, because even though we are British and my husband does not do the specific job roles that are witnessed in the film, it still brings home the risks in which my husband is facing whilst on tour. I think the film is highly effective in portraying the majority of aspects included in war rather than just the violence which is seen by the public when it is on the news every week. The film shows that the soldiers are individuals who do have feelings just like an ordinary person, which is not always the case with the news media's portrayal.
I overall, say this is a film for any fan of military/war films however it is perhaps not for people who have serving loved ones who are currently on tour for obvious reasons. The Hurt Locker one epic rollercoaster, of bombs, friendships and losses.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Christopher Sayegh
Runtime: 131 Minutes
Original Release date: 28th August 2009
DVD Release date: 28th December 2009
I run a risk in writing this review following only one viewing, in that The Hurt Locker is a film that needs multiple viewings to fully absorb. However, this should not affect the credibility of the review. One thing that must be noted is that this is not a 'war film' per se, in the way in which "Saving Private Ryan" and "Platoon" are 'war films'. Rather, this is an exploration of the chaos of war, and the way in which it affects one's psyche - quite like a modern-day, slightly tamer and more realistic (and less comic) "Catch-22". So, don't expect hordes of soldiers, guns blazing and what not, but rather a patient account of one man's experience in a warzone.
There is not much to say on the subject of plot in this instance. Sgt. James (Renner) is the protagonist in question, and the one who receives the main focus, as a replacement leader of a bomb disposal team in the Iraq War. He is great in this, and this is arguably his 'breakthrough' movie, having been cast in a number of big roles since; namely "Thor" and "Avengers Assemble" as Hawkeye, "The Bourne Legacy", "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" and "The Town", the latter of which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. It was in "The Hurt Locker" that he received his first Oscar nomination however, for Best Actor in a Leading Role (it would be Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart" who would go on to win it, however), and it is a very deserved nomination. Renner's character is the 'new boy', and is portrayed as rather cocky and reckless, to the point where in one scene, another sergeant, Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), aims down the sight of his weapon in view of killing James. In the eyes of the audience though, any lack of likeability for the character soon diminishes as the story progresses, and the 'cocky and reckless' turns to 'confident and brave'. The rest of the cast is certainly subsidiary, allowing for only solid at best performances from the actors. Renner is definitely the shining star, here. Also worth mentioning is the cameo roles of Ralph Fiennes (love Ralph!) and Guy Pearce!
The film serves as an intricate study of how dangers in war (most predominantly in this film: bombs) can have mental and emotional consequences. Director Kathryn Bigelow brings the movie together in such a way that every aspect of the filmmaking process has a part to play in this psychological portrayal. The script is great, albeit sparse at times, but the empty space is vital to the story and the film. I've not seen many other movies that create suspense quite like this one, and this is mainly down to the fantastic use of editing and sound mixing, but in the bigger picture, Bigelow's vision. She is the queen of tension. The film avoids cliché due to its vastly realistic approach, in that filmic embellishments are few in numbers - but one expects something major to happen almost constantly throughout. Depending on the viewer, this can come across as a bit of a disappointment when nothing actually does happen (to an extent)! Typical Hollywood narrative is avoided to achieve this effect, as it just wouldn't quite work with what Bigelow and the others are trying to get across. Moreover, there is no true climax to the film, but rather a nod towards a message/moral that I feel finalises the story aptly. In summary, this isn't one to entertain the socks off the audience, but rather provoke thoughts and emotions and provide insight to a frighteningly real element of war.
The film received nine Oscar nominations, six of which were won. I feel that they were all (but one) deserved, and most momentous of all was Bigelow's Best Director win. She is the first female director to ever win Best Director at the Academy Awards, which is a fantastic achievement (and I'm particularly glad that she won it over James Cameron's overrated "Avatar"!). Of course 'Best Film' is a damn good achievement, too. The only Oscar nomination with a slight question mark over it is the nomination for the score, written by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders. The word 'sparse' comes to mind again, and 'ambience' for the most part. Whilst I strongly believe that appropriateness is paramount in scoring a film (and should that mean silence, then you write silence), I feel that more could have been said through the music. I quite like the pair so it is a shame, but in this instance, I'm glad that Giacchino's outstanding score for Pixar's "Up" won the award.
As a film that focuses mainly on characterisation and the effects on the mind, rather than filmic entertainment, it can appear quite 'slow' on the surface, if you're one to use such a term, and unfortunately, this may spoil it for certain viewers. Patience is a key ingredient to every element of The Hurt Locker, and there is feeling created that you're almost urging something to happen. Bigelow gets you to the edge of your seats in a completely different way, but even any shocking or brutal moments seem to blend seamlessly with the barrenness of film, evoking deep emotional responses from the viewer. I couldn't say that the film is flawed in anyway; it doesn't miss the mark on any level of which it is trying to achieve, but as a word of warning, if you're after an upbeat, entertaining war film, this is SO far from what you should watch. However, The Hurt Locker is a brilliant study of characterisation and the psyche of soldiers, and moreover, a superb film.
The film can currently be purchased on Amazon for £3.91 - what a steal!
Bigelow's marvellous portrayal of the Iraq War has landed her a monumental project due out later this year: the 'Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project', as it is known on IMDb, will put the hunt, capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden onto the big screen, which is an exciting concept, and will definitely be in contention for a number of Awards. Well done Biggy!
Please note: A condensed version of this review may be found on my IMDb account.
This film was on tv the other day so I recorded it and then watched it the next day. I had heard some good things about the film but was not sure exactly what the film was about apart from the fact that it was about soldiers. I do like war kind of films so I was looking forward to this.
The film is about a team of bomb disposal soldiers. They are in Bagdhad trying to clear up the streets from bombs that people are planting to either blow up the soldiers or just to make carnage with the civilians living there.
The film is really good, it is quite concentrated on the group and does not really go off anywhere else, it could be like a fly on the wall film following them was they go about their business. I like the way you subtly get to know the characters while they are working. The special effects are brilliant and there are some really good bits where you are gripped to your seats wondering whether they are going to disarm the bomb or blow themselves up. At certain times you could actually feel all the dust and dirt of the place and feel the sweat of them as they went about their work.
I really enjoyed watching this film, it was such a good story, they kept putting up at the bottom of the screen how many days they had left before they finished their tour out there and would be flown home so you kept wondering how many of them would see it to the end and actually get on the plane home in one piece. I liked the way the characters evolved as you got to know them and also the way they worked together, in that kind of job they needed to have complete trust in each other and it was interesting to see how they played this out in the film.
Some of the actors in the film were as follows
Jeremy Renner - Sergeant 1st Class William James
Anthony Mackie - Sergeant JT Sanborn
Brian Geraghty - Specialist Owen Eldridge
Guy Pearce - Staff Sergeant Matt Thompson
Ralph Fiennes - Contractor Team Leader
There were some really surprising parts in the film that shook you up a bit watching them. I won't give out what they were but it is well worth watching.
I give this film 5 stars as I really enjoyed it and think its a great film.
" The Hurt Locker" is a 2008 American War movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty and follows a US Army bomb disposal team through there tour of a Post iraq war iraq.
Sergeant first class William James ( Jeremy Renner ) is a seasoned war veteran and has been in the bomb disposal side of the army for quite some time, he is assigned as the team leader of a 3 man team of disposal experts after their sergeant ( Guy Pierce ) is killed by an Iraqi IED ( improvised explosive device ) the other two members of the team Sergeant JT Sanborn ( Anthony Mackie ) and Specialist Owen Eldridge ( Brian Geraghty.
Immediately the other two members of the team are wary of James almost Cowboy mentality and while he's very very good at what he does the men ( particularly Sanborn ) get the feeling that he's going to get one of them killed, or at the least seriously injured.
As there tour counts down and the men spend time together they encouter various dangerous missions, including suicide bombers, rigged car bombs and a stranded team of British Mercenaries ( led by Ralph Fiennes ) which force Sanborn and James to work together as a cohesive unit and they briefly bond, however all is not right with James and he is clearly a troubled man waiting for that one explosion, the men must try to stay alive and possibly keep their commander in check.
The Hurt Locker is probably one of the best movies about the iraqi conflict i've seen, partly because it doesn't actually focus on the main conflict itself but rather a post war Iraq dealing with insurgents and a hostile native people, also while there is clearly combat involved, as they're following an Explosive device team around its almost secondary to the tense moments while diffusing a bomb
Kathryn Bigelow does an amazing job of capturing the essence of the middle east and in particular the feeling of actually being in Iraq ( she wanted to film within Iraq to give the movie the most realistic feel possibly, but ultimately security concerns prevented that, so she filmed in Jordan instead mere miles away from the Iraqi border, which keeps some of the feeling of being there in my opinion ).
The main actors also do a tremendous job playing their parts, in particular Jeremy Renner is tremendous as William James, a man who has clearly seen too much combat and is almost numb to the immense danger facing him everyday, who seemingly loves what he does and ultimately can't live his life without the job, possibly shortening his odds of surviving the end of the conflict, the other two supporting actors equally do great jobs conveying their apprehension at having such a reckless commander and their hatred of the conflict and the country itself.
This is by no means a cheerful movie and there is really no moral to the story, its instead just a great portrayal of the life of a Military explosive expert working in the most inhumane place possible and all the mental pitfalls that go with it, gritty stuff that will certainly make you think
Warning: I've had to include some spoilers in this review!
The Iraq war. A conflict which brought out as much popular opposition as it did high level support. As with so many conflicts it divided.
Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar winning film involves a unit of 3 men disposing of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) around war torn modern day Iraq.
There are essentially three characters:
Sergeant James (Jeremy Renner) - a bomb disposal expert
Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) - his supporting sergeant
Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) - the third member of the troop
There are also some better known actors who play cameos. And this is the first surprise which alerts us that there is more to this movie than we initially realise. The first scene is Guy Pearce as the original bomb disposal expert in the team and we settle back and expect him, as a well know face, to be a main character and in the film for the duration. Within 5 minutes he's dead. Similarly Liam Neeson.
Renner's maverick, redneck, loose-cannon character is the replacement for the cautious Pearce. And this brings about some real tension with Sanborn in particular. Renner thrives on the adrenaline of the life or death situations. Eldridge on the other hand is suffering with his own demons and hates the situation, desperate to get home. Which eventually he does after being shot by Renner in a gung-ho moment of stupidity.
As they travel around defusing bombs they face, not just danger, but the nature of their enemy; using a young boy as a body bomb and an innocent father as a suicide bomber. Their reactions to these things are polar opposites but their release (alcohol and violence) is the same.
The film counts down the days to the end of their tour before we see Renner return home to his ex-wife and child. It is clear that he cannot stand civilian life, supermarket shopping and peeling vegetables, and at the end of the film we see him starting a new tour of duty with a new crew of 365 days in length!
The opening credits make the point that war is like a drug; some thrive on it and some hate it. Renner is the former and Sanborn and Eldridge the latter. Renner thrives on the danger and the high of diffusing a bomb. The other two are merely doing a job they hate and can't wait to get home.
This is seen most clearly at two points; the first is when Sanborn finds Renner's box of trophies he has collected from his 873 successful diffusions. To Renner they are items that could have killed him, to Sanborn they are just bits of junk from Radio Shack.
Secondly, we see it in Renner's reaction to the boy ('Beckham') who he believes has been killed for a body bomb. Renner searches out the culprits taking unnecessary risks for what turns out to be an error.
Did I enjoy it? No
Was I gripped? Yes
Was it too long? I thought so by about 20 minutes
Was it good? A qualified yes
Would I recommend it? Not for someone looking for entertainment escapism.
I would give it 3.5 stars but in absence of that possibility I give it 3.
It's available for £5.99 on amazon
Also on Ciao
I'll be honest, when this came out at the cinema, I had no interest in seeing it. The films I like are usually chick flicks, comedies or rom coms. This couldn't be much different than my usual choice of film.
However, when I read about the film in a newspaper a few months back I decided I should watch it. It sounded like a truely amazing film and judging by all the awards it had won, it would probably live up to any expectations I had.
Therefore, I added it to my online DVD rental list and looked forward to receiving it. It arrived last week and I decided to wait to watch it until my partner was about as I knew it would be a film he would like to see. This is a film only review as I never bother with any of the extras on DVDs.
The film opens in Iraq, three members of the US Army are working together to disarm a bomb. Unfortunately, as one walks away from the scene the bomb explodes killing him instantly. The other two soldiers, Sanborn and Eldridge are understandably upset and when the replacement comes, a soldier called James initially they are not too keen.
James is a bit cocky, he doesn't seem to be taking the job as seriously as he should and to begin with Sanborn and Eldridge just do not understand him. However, for them to work successfully and in order to save lives they understand they must work as a team.
James seems to think he is immune to death, he disarms bombs without the correct armour on and he puts others lives in danger aswell as his own. Will Sanborn and Eldridge learn to accept his wild ways and manage to work with him or will it all end in disaster?
From the moment this film began I was hooked to the storyline. I wanted to see what was going to happen to these men and if they would make it home safely to their families. Because we see the men in such danger throughout the film I became really protective of them, willing them to be ok.
The film was a real eye opener for me, I only know a couple of people in the army and neither of them served in Iraq, therefore I do not know what it was like out there. This made me really feel for the troops and understand how hard they work for their countries.
The three main characters in the film: Eldridge, Sanborn and James were all very different however I loved each of them because of different traits they had. Whilst Sanborn and Eldridge were much more cautious and careful, James was a risk taker. There were many moments in the film where I thought James was being unfair to those close to him as he was not taking everybody's best interests into account. Therefore, out of the three James was my least favourite character.
The plot flowed in the film well and there was never a dull moment. The film portrays their time in Iraq but only select days, in each of these days something crucial is always happening which helped us to see exactly what the men were experiencing. In a way I was eager for the film to end because I wanted to be sure the men would be ok but it was so gripping and interesting I enjoyed watching it.
The acting is absolutely brilliant. The film did not seem like a film as such to me and perhaps more like a documentary, I felt as though the soldiers were real soldiers and we were following them whilst they were serving their country.
This film is brilliant. I was unsure if I would enjoy it because it is not in my favourite genres of films but it is something that I think everyone must see to fully appreciate what our troops do for us. It was gripping throughout and I couldn't take my eyes from the screen. I fully recommend it to all, regardless of whether you think you might find it interesting.
The film was made in 2008.
It was released on DVD in 2009.
It was directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
It was written by Mark Boal.
It stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty.
It runs for 131 minutes.
It is rated a 15 in the UK which I think is an appropriate rating due to the amount of violence in the film, there is also quite a lot of bad language.
IMDB give it a rating of 7.8/10 (84,637 votes).
I thought this film was spectacular, it is a real eye opener and it was done very well. One of the best films I have seen this year.
Having seen the number of awards this film scooped up and the adoration poured on it, seemingly universally, from US audiences, I added this film to my rental list and last night we settled down on the sofa to enjoy what we thought would be an action war movie.
That was the plan anyway.
Mr ToT fell asleep after the first 45 minutes or so and I was tempted to join him, but decided to see it through to the end, thinking there must be SOMETHING of merit here. By the end of the two hours, yes, I did finally appreciate the movie and what it was trying to do, but I wouldn't want to watch it again, if you see what I mean.
Well...that's the point. There isn't one really. It's a glimpse into the daily lives of a US 3-man bomb squad in Iraq, counting down days and events towards the end of that tour of duty. No overall narrative. No sub-plots. Complete lack of 'story' - just moving from one incident into another. This made it a difficult film to get interested in.
So what DOES happen?
It starts with the original leader of the team getting blown up (ha, yes that WAS the actor who used to be in Neighbours) and the replacement Sargeant James, joining Sargeant Sanborn and Specialist Eldridge. They deal with several bombs and one attack (with a group of rather weedy Brits they come across). There are some scenes around the army camp.
The problem I had with this film, once I'd adjusted to the premise of no actual story-line, is that the characters are very 2-dimensional and we really don't start to get to 'know' them until quite late in the movie. If we make no connection to the characters, we are not that interested in what they do or what happens to them. They might as well have been robots for most of the movie. Finally, in the last third of the film, they start having a few scenes where the personalities and motivations and histories start coming out, and it makes a huge difference. At last I could stop seeing them as actors moving around on screen and believing in them as people. It's a shame this happened so late.
The style of the movie was quite strange as it kept randomly swapping between documentary-style shaky cam, and normal filming. At times this happened several times within one scene at the start of the movie so I got the impression we were getting a viewpoint of a character through a video camera or something, and was waiting for this off-screen character to reveal himself, but no. I really dislike that 'shaky cam' effect being used just for some obscure effect in the director's head.
What did I like?
It took a while to get into it, but then the film was recording the squad's slow decent, as a team and as individual's into a chaotic mind-set as the work they do, and the environment they live in, has more and more of an effect on them. In this way, it has a lot in common with the Vietnam movies of the 80s, and I think they were trying to produce a modern day version of those, but didn't quite pull it off as we didn't get to love the characters and care about them, and the action is quite slow paced. Yes, bomb disposal is a slow and steady job, and the film does a great job of expressing the tension of this work, but it gets a little monotonous to watch.
It is a film that has you holding your breath at times and the scene with the reluctant suicide bomber was both poignant and full of nervous tension. The count down worked well and the changing relationships between the team members was the main depth of the film, albeit one that took a while to get going, and it would have been a much better movie if this had been developed earlier.
I don't quite understand why this won so many awards. It's an ok film, definitely not an 'action movie' nor is it quite a 'buddy movie' so it leaves you feeling ultimately a bit unsatisfied.
Update: I have yet to meet anyone who liked this movie.
Hurt Locker is the American war film from director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal. Originally premiered in 2008 it was released in America in 2009 and has only recently made it to British screens. The film follows the the US army Explosive Ordinance Disposal team or bomb squad, during the Iraq war starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty.
This film has been a long time coming for me and I have to say after mixed reviews and hearing the chatter of idle minds in pubs, this film was everything I wanted from it. It is not an overpowering awe inspiring epic but it is a raw, gritty and almost dramatised documentary of the bomb disposal teams tour of duty. Much like the Series Generation Kill, this film was based on the reports of a journalist embedded in the team on the frontline.
Tensions arise when the new bomb diffuser arrives and has a wreckless addiction to the job and seemingly doesn't care whether he lives or dies. They go out everyday day and contend with the insurgency and IED's (improvised explosive devise) literally putting their lives on the line discovering bombs connected to other bombs and half buried shells and even car bombs left and wired around the engine or radio. Because this film is shot in a very up close and personal way it pulls the audience into a tense and quite captivating environment which at times is quite uncomfortable but gripping nonetheless.
The plot itself is basic but refreshing as the nuances of emotion from the soldiers really cements a sense of sympathy and evokes certain feelings of compassion. The standard of acting is set high and is unfailing throughout, with stellar performances all round. Nominated for nine Academy awards in 2010 it received six, including best picture and best director (the first woman ever to win this award!) Hurt Locker also earned several awards and honors from critics and festivals including six BAFTA Awards. So rightly so it holds a great deal of weight already which is sure to extend over time and perhaps gain some sort of cult status.
The cinematography attempts to mimic reality by using varying perspective - because that is how the eye works as apposed to the lens, we see the microcosm and macrocosm simultaneously so the this was the idea in filming this movie, intending to utterly immerse the audience. This is not a new technique and by no means groundbreaking in Hurt Locker but it is impressive and definitely deserves a mention as it works as it supposed to doing the screen play a good deal of justice.
I would urge people to watch this film and judge it for themselves, it is raw and immediately visceral making for an intense and engaging watch, the ending maybe seen as a let down but actually ties the film up very nicely and perpetuates the themes that have been brought to the fore during the movie. I personally think it's a stunning achievement for all involved.
With the Oscar hype definitely featuring a battle between former husband and wife James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow, Cameron won with me in terms of which film I watched first. His 3D all singing all dancing new world creation that was the really long and visually impressive Avatar scored a good 4 stars out of 5 for me. The hype was a bit over the top, and it wasn't perfect. Still highly rated. However, it lost out big time to Bigelow's The Hurt Locker at the Oscars, with a definitive bit of one upmanship to her ex-hubby. So, what is it all about?
Well, it kind of came out of nowhere really, in terms of exposure. One minute, everyone's talking about Avatar, the next thing you know there's talk of a war drama coming out which is rumoured to be really powerful and thought-provoking, with a relatively uncommercialised cast and great cinematography nailing it and making it Oscar worthy. We meet a trio of bomb disposal experts in the middle of the Iraq conflict, as it is their job to examine any suspicious wires, bottles, canisters or any other 'packages' that are spotted lying in the street.
The opening scene basically shows us what can happen when it goes wrong, a bomb disposal sergeant running away at 30 metres being propelled away from the blast with us seeing just a splattering of blood, at a distance, on the inside of his mask. It's powerful! We then meet the replacement, Sergeant James, who becomes the main character of the film. Jeremy Renner plays James, and does so portraying him as a man with no worries, fears or care. He is a bit of a maverick, and marches towards potential threats where others would tread carefully and cautiously. In short, he is a liability.
Joining up with the two other members of this elite bomb squad (Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty)) provides a lot of friction. They have just lost their team mate, despite their caution, and in swans this gung ho man who doesn't seem to have a care in the world his safety or that of his team mates. Tensions rise from minute to minute, and you start to wonder why he is allowed to get away with this, but his success rate is impressive and perhaps this confidence (bordering on arrogance) is exactly what is needed.
As the film progresses, we see the clever characterisation that Bigelow allows the camera to produce, with a bit of development from James' point of view the only real mention of life outside of the war. Alcohol plays a big part in the release these men need, and the few times they partake in more than they should be drinking, emotions come to the fore, and you see the camaraderie coming through. However, the lucid moments are accompanied by a classical score that does more than just evoke emotion in the viewer. It's compelling viewing indeed and you find it hard to turn your head away.
That having been said, my wife and I were wondering if something was going to happen. The film seemed to meander along as they go from bomb threat to bomb threat, not really developing much else other than the characterisation. Other characters feature small cameos from the likes of David Morse and Ralph Fiennes, the latter's British officer in the desert including a really impressive scene with some discipline explored in some deep and selfless acts. This features one of the more powerful and telling scenes of the film, with James and Sanborn on a sandy ridge in the desert, a small hut in the distance, and snipers on both sides. The patience is intense, the silence increasing the angst, and the moment that I found to be brilliant features a really selfless act from James as the spotter, getting a drink for his sniper but not caring about himself. It's in contrast to his character for the rest of the film, and says a lot.
This was one spot where something a little different happened, and I was reminded a little bit of Jarhead, which was also very slow going and featured the emotional and psychological intensity of a war situation as opposed to the physical fighting. The Hurt Locker is very much like this, and it shows the effects such a war can have on you as a person. Perhaps it dragged it out a little too long, but by the end of the film a little more action comes into the equation, as if Bigelow couldn't help herself. However, this was welcome, and it was interesting to see how people's judgement and outlooks change when faced with different situations. I was very impressed with a lot of the acting, even the bit part roles outside of this main trio.
Overall, then, I would describe this as an emotional and psychological thought-provoking film. The fact that these guys are an elite bomb squad is almost unimportant. They could be anything in the war, but it serves to show just how intense things can be, and what something like this can do to a person, psychologically. I was impressed with the film, and am really glad to have seen it. I can't say, however, that I would have shoved a bucketload of Oscars at it. There are moments of brilliance, sure, and Renner does a fabulous job of being a lead actor, but overall impressions weren't ones of being immensely impressed. It's very good, and I highly recommend it. It's not perfect, and does drag slightly, but it's very thought-provoking and one I'd be happy to own on DVD and watch again.
This has got to be film of the . . . well everything. I tend to rate how good films are on their effect on me when I watch them for the first time. The Hurt Locker did it all for me, the explosiveness in certain parts gave me more than enough excitement over special effects, the story quite honestly is brilliant, but not in the way you'd expect, the tension is unbelievable I was literally on the edge of my seat for the entire film, and finally the reality, the message, the emotional response that comes flowing out of the film is second to none.
I really enjoy films that are based in reality, I do like fantasy epics etc, but I feel the strongest films are those that tell a story that is either true, or could well be true. The Hurt Locker absolutely delivers on this aspect, the attention to detail is brilliant, and you get the feeling that this really could be true. This brings to me onto the story; the film follows a bomb disposal squad in the middle east touring around for their assigned rotation of duty, their job is really simple eliminate bomb threats by disarming them. It's so tense. The moments in which bombs could go off, insurgents could shoot or the team could fall apart due to a disagreement resulting in their deaths is so real that I felt like I was right there. The psychological aspect of war is also really nicely handled, the soldiers problems, private lives are all told but in a great way, you don't feel like the film suddenly becomes an episode of Eastenders, the stories all come across in an authentic way, you feel they are behaving like real soldiers in a close team.
This film isn't just for guys with the explosiveness and the war setting, it's that good. I would recommend it to anyone, as much as anything the entire film is an education. I think that the film can stand up for itself in that respect; by the number of awards it's won.
I could say more, but I think that if I do I'll just re-tell the whole film. This really is fantastic. Please watch it, and enjoy it in the same way I did.
The Hurt Locker is a multi-Oscar winning film directed by Kathryn Bigelow about a group of bomb removal team in Iraq. This film swept the board at the Oscars, beating the lamentable Avatar because it's a film with a script and real tension rather than loads of special effects and no script.
The hurt locker is a spell binding film about men and women who chose to enter a theatre of war where personal danger is constant and extreme. The film is about the bomb disposal team in Iraq but is more about the personal stories of the men who have to go out and remove the bombs left by their enemies. The bombs start as the key to the film but in truth by the end they become a part of the story rather than the stories core, the film instead features on the bomb removal men and the bomb placers.
The interplay between the main bomb disposal man Sgt. James (Jeremy Renner) and the eponymous and enigmatic bomb placer is a constant throughout the film. The film starts to focus on the qualities of two professionals, the bomber and the bomb diffuser; both are aware of the other and in a strange way respect each other.
Sgt James is the central force in the film, a man of few words but one whose actions define him. He's neither a hero in the conventional sense or an anti-hero in the obscure way but a man who cares not for medals or honours but has a love for diffusing bombs. He puts himself in the way of danger in terms of diffusing these bombs not for glory but simply for the love of getting into the insides not only of the bomb but the mind of the bomber. He seems to know the needs and desires of the bomber and why he's placed the bombs where he has, this extends to an almost telepathic understanding of the needs of the bomber.
There is also a sense of the good cop/bad cop combo in the relationship between James and the head of his support team Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie). Sanborn is a skilled professional career soldier who does things by the book, understandably the eccentric practices of his new bomb disposal expert James gives him procedural nightmares. There is a Starsky to James' Hutch in their relationship, in that the career officer is looking after a maverick expert. In that the two work well together and the impulsiveness of James is water down by Sanborn and the text book approach by Sanborn is given more freedom to respond by the eccentricities of James. Together they get the job done and gain mutual respect.
The hurt locker is a great film, it has qualities which deservedly led to Oscars, the locations are obviously somewhere in the Middle East as the sun has almost a starring role in the film. The sun is a blazing hot force which casts its eye on the films events, it gives no soft edges and the extreme devastation of the war zone gives no easy places for the viewer to sit.
The film is shot in slow motion, this isn't a film for quick fly shots and snappy camera action, in some places you feel like the camera is stationary and placed there to record a real bomb removal event. There are few alternate camera angles and the events are given time to play out, so when James undoes the top of a bomb the action slows to almost a stop as you wait for the events to unfold. There is brilliance in this style of directing, the skill to know when not to overdo the zoom lens or just to let the events unfold slowly.
For me Hurt Locker is the best film of 2009 and deservedly won its clutch of awards and one final thought I'm glad I'm not a bomb disposal officer.
The Hurt Locker tells the story of the men in Iraq who attempt to detonate the now infamous IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) which have killed so many British and American troops. It has to be remembered this film is hardly representative of the experience of troops in the front line. In one scene our protagonist manages to get through a dangerous town at night on his own by putting up his hood. So bear that in mind.
Ignoring this though, the film is brilliant. The main character (James) plays his part quite expertly, he is so incredibly cocky, but this what makes him brilliant. While it is not totally representative if what soldiers go through, it does show us the strains on these men and the horror that these devices have caused our troops so much pain. It is totally deserving of its best picture award, it had substance, humour and moments of great emotion something that Avatar was truly lacking.
This film is well worth a watch, I'd recommend it to anyone.
I saw this pick up a few Oscars and after looking on Amazon and seeing it was only £7 (postage and packaging also included) I decided to give it a whirl.
And I can say I'm very glad I did, because the film is fantastic. The film follows a bunch of bomb disposal experts on tour in Iraq. Which had put me off thinking it would be very political and a bit boring. But I was very pleasantly surprised as the film is action packed, full of great performances and a ton of tension. The way director Kathryn Bigelow (James Cameron's ex wife) chucks us in head first right next to the actors, which highlights the danger that is all around, and as the camera cuts and spins 360 degrees the effect is dizzying and with the harsh terrain the country itself feels very oppressive.
The story itself is very simple and for some not enough happens we just get to watch these experts working, in a very dangerous job. The actors are all relatively unknown (perhaps not famous is a bit more accurate), with Jeremy Rennor the highlight; his jumpy, cocky, adrenaline addicted Sergeant First Class William James, the leader of the EOD squad, is an unpredictable firecracker, who also has a softer side (with a local lad named 'Beckham' showing this). And the story revolves and leads off of him as he creates a lot of tension with his colleagues as they try to keep him in check and keep alive.
Anthony Mackie who plays Sergeant J. T. Sanborn, (another member of the EOD squad), is James' complete opposite and the pair have a lot of friction going on. He insists on doing things the right way and by protocol, He is repeatedly critical of James' evident unruliness; and it not hard to see and understand why. Elsewhere there is Brian Geraghty as Specialist Owen Eldridge, the youngest member of their squad, who is torn up with guilt for a death he believes he is responsible for. All three are fantastic and very watchable.
On the down side the film is very simple but I'm being picky as I didn't really notice while the film was playing, also Evangeline Lilly (Kate from Lost) is underused and is a bit of a distraction popping up in a role that any actress could have played easily.
A fantastic movie well worth buying