"The Hurt Locker"
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
Written by Mark Boal
Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty.
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 7/12/09
I don't know if a movie has been as intense
as "The Hurt Locker" in a while, at least amongst flicks I have
seen...your stomach will really be in a ball after watching this
Based on a screenplay by journalist Mark
Boal, "The Hurt Locker" follows three soldiers during a 40-day
stretch in and around Baghdad as they try to survive in time to
fight even more missions for their commanders in the U.S. Army.
Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and a Specialist named Eldredge (Brian
Geraghty) were working with a staff sergeant and bomb specialist
named Thompson (Guy Pearce) until Thompson was killed in an action
that opens the film's events. Enter Staff Sgt. James (Jeremy
Later" and the antagonist from
"S.W.A.T."), a wild man
who has defused nearly 900 explosive devices for other units and has
been brought over to lead Sanborn's outfit on the front lines.
At the end of this forty days, all three men can go home to their
lives if they can just stay alive long enough to see the day.
Director Kathryn Bigelow's film career has
mainly been an up-and-down wash; her best highlight is probably
"Point Break", a film that isn't great but IS legendary in its own
right. With "The Hurt Locker", she has made a film that is
well-directed and has a great level of detail in its script even
without being a wordy affair. This is strengthened by tense
action sequences and, at times, sheer horror...the film questions
why anyone would want to dig around for explosives when you've got
such a high rate of failure and such a delicate line to walk between
life and death. Lots of folks die in "The Hurt Locker" but in
ways that speak to the film's realistic take on the built-in drama
of James' attempts to consistently work under fire to take out bombs
that could hurt dozens of people.
Renner and Mackie, the main leads here, are
solid; Geraghty is also strong as the group's third wheel and
designated low man on the totem pole. Bigelow and her casting
team score big cameos with bit parts by Pearce as well as Ralph
Fiennes and David Morse...even Evangeline Lilly from "Lost" appears
late in the film, too. But, these are the kind of cameos that
work in films, unlike the strange cameos in the recent
Enemies"...none of these cameos feel like they were added for
the sake of selling product, or to help confuse the situation.
It just seems like Fiennes was available to fill a part that isn't
that important but requires strong work in the brief time he's
As the movie goes along, it loses some steam
when it is not on the battlefield...war movie clichés have to show
up eventually, so when they do--we have to have scenes of boys being
boys at the barracks or the natural effect of a non-soldier showing
up on the battlefield just when we need a token character to
die--they fall a little flat and take away from the incredible
screen experience of battle. And, me being me, I kinda wanted
one more action scene, a little run-and-gun shoot-'em-up, not just
all of the moments of bombs being defused (or not) in the nick of
But, "The Hurt Locker" is strong, and it's
just outside of top dog status for me. Hopefully, Bigelow is
getting better with age and Renner gets the chance to show that
charisma in front of other similar films soon.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard