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March 29, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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The Hurt Locker


Had it not been for the many critical accolades and the win of both Best Director and Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, The Hurt Locker may have suffered the fate that most small films with virtually unknown casts face on this side of the world: a straight-to-DVD release. Which would have been a damn shame, because this tense, battering and totally immersive picture deserves all the attention it can get. Thankfully, that should no longer be a problem, and as much fun as the media had playing ex-couple Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron against each other, it brought deserved focus onto this electrifying film.

Iraq dramas have become something of a dirty word among sub-genres. We have seen many Hollywood features pumped out in recent years, with delivery of similar themes to a relatively underwhelming effect. The Hurt Locker comes as a welcome punch to the face. The film opens with the Chris Hedges quote “War is a drug”, and then we are thrown in the deep end with a team of bomb disposal experts in Iraq. The film’s thematic focus is on their reckless team leader William James (Jeremy Renner) and the complexities of his unique relationship with danger and adrenaline. Renner is fantastic, wearing his role with subtlety and fleshing it out with superb realisations of character. The support is of the highest calibre too, with his team of Sergeant Sanborn played by Anthony Mackie (someone please give him the leading role he deserves and make him a star already) and specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) showing the vast mechanics of masculinity and coping.

But the thing that gives this film its power is the tension: it truly is a white-knuckle ride. The team find themselves going from tense situation to tenser situation, with each scene showing us new flecks of character development. The camera’s manic fluidity—zooming in and out, scoping back and forth and following the motions of the characters—behaves exactly like a nervous bystander would, effectively immersing us in the suspense. It’s in this way that the film proves its point again, as we too become addicted to the tension and drugged from the drama.

Bigelow tackles this very male story with cutting insight into how men deal with war and proves herself a very worthy recipient of Best Director. As a suspense thriller, taut war drama and detailed character study, this film hits you hard on all counts. See it.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Part of the World Cinema Showcase

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