Lara’s Solo Hurt Locker Review

7 Sep

As you probably know, this summer it was announced that the Academy Awards will now have ten nominees for best picture rather than five. The President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Sid Ganis, said that this action was made in order to “return to some of [the Oscar’s] earlier roots” and “include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories” (Oscar.org). Translation: In order to get better ratings. While I think it is mostly a bullshit scheme that came a year too late, I’m also interested in what will be on the final ballot. There is no equivalent to Wall-E nor The Dark Knight this summer, I highly doubt Transformers 2 will be vying for the Oscar, which leads me to believe that the Academy board will not get the blockbuster watching audience they are hoping for. However, an independent film that was released this summer is beginning to get a lot of Oscar buzz: The Hurt Locker.

The Hurt Locker is a drama that follows a US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team in the Iraq War. With only 38 days left until they can leave Baghdad, the squad is given a new team leader, Sergeant William James, whose “reckless” behavior on the field quickly isolates him from his company. The main company members who are shown questioning James’ conduct are Owen Eldridge, a nervous, bomb specialist who doesn’t seem to have ever gotten accustomed to his duties, and Sgt. J.T. Sanborn, a sensible soldier who acts professionally despite his longing to go home. The film focuses on the tensions among these three men whether through the riveting scenes which follow them on their day to day missions of bomb disarming, or the borderline homo-erotic fist fights between them when off-duty.

The film opens with a quote from journalist Chris Hedges: “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” With such an introduction, I entered the film believing that it would be a liberal chronicle, portraying the harms of the Iraq invasion. And while I personally believe it is an unjust war, I was not looking forward to watching a film with a political agenda, especially in a Hollywood made movie about Iraq, it would be too obvious. However, The Hurt Locker does not come across as a liberal or conservative product. Sure, it shows how grim war can be, but I doubt that anyone believes war to be a time of merriment, regardless of political stance. As far as the Iraq issue goes, the film does not delve into the debate. In fact the location and politics themselves are so rarely alluded to, that it could be about any people in any war, resulting in a timeless film.

The only downside of The Hurt Locker is that there is not enough of it. The film moves so fast from one adrenaline soaked scene to the next that the two hours completely rush by. While it did all that it could with the time it had, the movie ended almost incompletely. I really think it would have worked exceptionally as a mini-series, allowing more insight to the individual characters. However, the film still fulfills its purpose, enlisting several techniques to exemplify the hurried atmosphere. In addition to the brilliant editing (expect your nomination Chris Innis and Bob Murawski), the cinematography was skilfully utilized to keep the audience members on the edge of their seats. Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, under the direction of Kathryn Bigelow, used a phantom camera which shot 10,000 frames per second, displaying every little detail in every massive explosion. Bombs detonating become beautiful shots that show the journey of tiny pebbles, symbolizing the repercussions on the insignificant during battle.

The Hurt Locker almost works as a summer blockbuster, with its gripping scenes and massive explosions, but it brings much more intelligence to the table. I highly recommend that you go see it; it is engrossing, it is clever, and it will leave you wanting more.

if only it was a miniseries,

Lara

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