The Hurt Locker : A Review

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It’s an honour to review The Hurt Locker as the first at this blog.

Before I get going with it, I just want to say that I am not an authority on Cinema or art of any kind. I am just someone who is giving her opinion. And the opinion is my own PoV. You may not agree with my interpretation of the movie. I have a distinct like/dislike when it comes to art, so be ready for some unexpected reviews in future :)

Genre : War
Director : Kathryn Bigelow
Cast : Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty

Tagline (my favs) :
You’ll know when you are in it.
You don't have to be a hero to do this job. But it helps.

The movie is based on the best selling novel - War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. The opening screen of the movie has a line from the same novel.

My take on the movie :
If you are looking for something in the line of Saving Private Ryan, then this is not the one who should watch. Both are war movies, but The Hurt Locker is very different. And for the sake of comparing, even though Saving Private Ryan didn’t win the Best Pic Oscar (can u blv it?) and Hurt Locker did, SPR is miles ahead of Hurt Locker.

The movie is not 100% right in its portrayal of how the army works in a war zone like Iraq. There are instances when it becomes almost absurd. But an average guy watching the movie won’t notice. Simply because he won’t know how the real thing works. Folks close to army might feel some discomfort. Still, giving the screenplay writer and director some benefit of artistic liberty is totally justified.

There are not too many war movies that are directed by women. At the first sight, you are going to be amazed at the rawness of the images. The movie is in-your-face. It has a no nonsense approach. Still, when you look carefully, you can see a woman’s touch.

I don’t wanna sound sexist, but women handle vulnerability a bit better than most men. Hurt Locker, in its heart, as its name signifies, is all about the devastation caused by war. More to the soul than to the body. It makes a killer out of a reluctant soldier. Scares the one who was dedicated... and worst of all, makes a nice human addicted to the carnage.

Hurt Locker makes you pause and think... makes you wonder if we are really looking for an excuse to kill ourselves.

Warning : Here be Spoilers.

The movie is basically about an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team working under the Bravo Company in present day Iraq, on its one year rotation. The movie is shot in almost a documentary style in the start. It’s unbelievable to imagine that they actually shot 100 minutes of footage for each minute they used in the movie. Guys, that’s more than even Apocalypse Now! You see what war and inhuman stress of dealing with death does to these guys.

The movie has a cold start (direct into action, without any preamble). It opens in a meat market in Iraq where the Original EOD Team has been called to diffuse and IED (Improvised explosive Device). It’s a symbol of cheapness of human life and sets the mood for the movie. The Bomb expert of the team is killed while trying to diffuse the IED

The new guy who joins as the bomb expert is a hero but a rather reckless man. He takes unnecessary risks. Yet, he has another side to his personality. He is not a brutal warmonger. War is just something that he is addicted to. He lives on raw adrenaline rushing through his blood.

The movie is built mostly around him and his two team-mates. They constantly fight death and live in a world where every step can be their last.

Scenes to watch for : The original Bomb expert of the EOD team, Matt Thompson, is played by Guy Pearce (yes, the Memento guy). The explosion of the same IED kills him. The scene of explosion is awesomely captured in super slo-mo. You can see the rust and dirt coming off the car, gravel rise up defying gravity and then the full force of the blast simply rips the air around.

The scene right after has Thompson's things being packed in a box. A solder asks – Is that everything? The line has profound meaning. A life packed in a small box.

There is a scene where the new bomb expert (William James, played by Jeremy Renner) first goes with the Bravo Company. The moment he pulls out 6 interlinked IEDs from the rubble is something that makes your heart stop (check the image attached to this review).

Another hard hitting scene is the one where he risks his life trying to diffuse a bomb implanted inside the dead body of a child.

watch out for the a special appearance by Ralph Fiennes.

My rating : 4 out of 5

The Hurt Locker Trivia

PS: I know its bit long. But I wanted to be honest with an honest movie :) I have kept the plotline shorter to stop it from becoming too long!


Brian Miller March 17, 2010 at 4:12 PM  

nice review...i concur...i really enjoyed it, it was fresh from other war movies...

RHYTHM AND RHYME March 17, 2010 at 6:36 PM  

Thanks for sharing your view on The Hurt Locker,
I have heard much about the film but have not seen it. You did an excellent job putting over the review, well done.


jonna March 17, 2010 at 7:13 PM  

wow..your review is fantastic..organized and easy to understand..:)

im not familiar with the movie but it sounds interesting to me :P

visit my blog if you have time ^_^

John March 18, 2010 at 2:23 AM  

Thanks for the review. I didn't read the spoiler section because I want to watch it. Everything before that point was splendid. You are doing a great job!

IdleMind March 18, 2010 at 8:47 AM  

I guess you should be doing more movie reviews ... for sometime :). To read your review of a war film is satisfying. But don't we get sensitive with a war film? and sometimes we ignore that it is the medium of cinema that needs to be inspected. Still you did quite well!

The story seems touching, more so because man keeps preaching peace, not war. Yet he's the most addicted to it ... though I don't understand this contradiction.

Maya March 18, 2010 at 8:57 AM  

I havent seen it yet, neither am a fan of war movies...
review was good, different and enjoyable

Chhaya March 18, 2010 at 11:33 AM  

@Brian : indeed. I found the movie very refreshing. The trauma that the soldiers go through is described in a very subtle way. The scene where James stands under the running shower is full battle gear, washing the blood off of him spoke so much more than any screaming or name calling would have.

Chhaya March 18, 2010 at 11:34 AM  

@Yvonne: I would recommend this movie to those who are ok with watching bit gore and violence. War movies tend to be that way.

I am glad you liked my review :)

Chhaya March 18, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

@Ayu : this movie is gonna last a long time in public memory. do give it a try if u like this genre. btw, i will surely visit your blog :)

Chhaya March 18, 2010 at 11:36 AM  

@idle : i didnt actually get the first part of your comment :)

i have never been an overtly sensitive person. I prefer War/thrillers/Psy-thrillers more because it tickles my brain and makes me think.

will put up more reviews once in a while :)

Chhaya March 18, 2010 at 11:37 AM  

@Uncommon Sense : i wants expecting you to like this genre either :) ... u know why ;)

glad you liked the review style though :) ... thank u

Chhaya March 18, 2010 at 11:37 AM  

@John (Quackster) : do watch it. i m sure u will like it :)

Opaque March 18, 2010 at 1:27 PM  

Seems like a good movie. It has been a while since I have watched a decent war movie. As you know I am in the field myself.

Chhaya March 18, 2010 at 5:44 PM  

@Brosreview : knowing u a bit, i strongly recommend this movie to u :)

Karthik March 18, 2010 at 8:57 PM  

I was hesitant to watch this movie. The sole reason being that it's an oscar winning movie. You know, most of the oscar winning movies are kinda boring. :P
But man, how wrong I was! I loved it immensely. Without much music and having been shot in steady camera, there is a certain rawness in the movie.
My favourite scene: When Ralph Fiennes dies and the Barrett is taken over by another soldier and wipes out the enemies clean. It's excellently shot. The patience and skill of a sniper is shown fabulously.

Wonderful movie. Wonderful review. :)

buckingfastard March 18, 2010 at 10:59 PM  

gud review fr a gr8 movie!!!

only point to disagree was i rate it above saving private ryan!!! luvd da definition of heroism wich is more of an addiction dan need

Chhaya March 19, 2010 at 8:21 AM  

@Karthik : I totally understand what u mean. Even I avoid reading the award winning books and Oscar winning movie. they often turn out to be very pretentious. But Hurt Locker is a big exception. :)
In the Ralph Fiennes scene, I preferred the symbolism when James shows Eldridge how to clean the blood soaked magazine by spitting on it so that it can be used in the sniper gun. There was a huge message in it. Also, the humane side of James is subtly portrayed when he looks after Sanborn during the same stake-out :)

Chhaya March 19, 2010 at 8:23 AM  

@buckingfastard : yes, the movie is awesome.
And I don’t mind at all that u differ when it comes to comparing Hurt Locker to Saving Private Ryan. You have your own likes/dislikes so its perfectly OK to know that you found Hurt Locker much better than SPR. But, with all due respect, I think you have got your definition of Heroism upside down :)

RAJ47 March 19, 2010 at 12:29 PM  

Hi Chhaya,
Just returned from a trip to your favourite place Ladakh.
I was extremely happy to be amidst the breathtaking mountains but out of communication - Tata or Reliance doesn't work there.
Was saddened by the state of Hemis - supposedly under renovation and repairs. The beauty of Thiksey too is being spoilt by modern constructions nearby.
Saw the frozen Pangong Tso - the beauty increases manifold. The trip was simply superb.
I have lots of catching up to do.
Shall write about your post later.

Chhaya March 19, 2010 at 2:48 PM  

@RAJ : first of all, welcome back. u were missed :)

i didnt know where to reach u to ask abt the reason behind u not being around.. so i just waited..

btw, cellphone thing sucks @ Ladakh. no pre-paid works. and only Vodafone post paid on roaming works there... i wud have warned you if u had let me know before going.

btw, sad thing abt the Gompas. Hemis already had scaffoldings inside when i last went. and Thiksey... i hate those cafetarias and shops inside the campus.
Pangong Tso... sigh... that must be a sight :D

PS: i m insanely jealous of you right now :)

Sorcerer March 19, 2010 at 4:21 PM  

Wonderful review..
I always loved war movies and Its a whole different world and emotions explained in those movies.

PointSingularity86 March 19, 2010 at 10:32 PM  

Hey Chhaya,
The Hurt Locker - too good a movie!! I, before wanted to see someone make a movie about the EOD teams... glad someone made it and captured it very brilliantly. Movie maintains an eerie tension throughout.
This one's already into my dvd collection! :)

Chhaya March 20, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

@Sorcerer : Do try to catch this one. Its one of the ionic war movies. :)

Chhaya March 20, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

@PointSingularity : High Five!!! :D

itsyvitsy March 21, 2010 at 1:13 PM  

SOWWY! I is late here. I is not in the well past few days and I is not wanting to read blogs just coz I has to read them coz they is following me! ;-) That was so out of character!

Boy, oh boy! You must replace that expression less, script reading, no brains movie reviewer that comes on the Zoom channel. I don't even remember his name! Every time I see I feel like punching him in his face! x-(

I can see how keenly you have observed the movie. You are given a full review counting various aspects that include perception, reality, and also being fair to the director herself. A non-biased approach taking all related parameters is key to a review and you have done just that. And, that is why it has come out clean and clear. Thanks for the review. I haven't watched it, but the review here intrigues me. I hope I'll be able to watch it soon.

Anonymous,  March 22, 2010 at 10:47 AM  

after reading dis,
lagta hai

dekhni padegi movie..

IdleMind March 22, 2010 at 10:47 AM  

I am not sure which area u missed! still, let me clarify that I don't like reviews of the story of a film. Many do it for the purpose of being popular with readers. When I read a review, prefer that a film ... even a war film be reviewed considering it a film, not a story.

The film is too many things - the story, acting, cinematography, music, editing and so on. All of this should be exploited for a review.

You are sensitive, since only sensitive people can create poetry (not like me!). But I do see a reason why people write against war when they see a film on war. Even knowing that man is the only being which loves war the way it is portrayed. Isn't that a bit of hypocrisy on the part of this being special creature called man?

RAJ47 March 23, 2010 at 5:19 AM  

Hi Chhaya,
Have you watched "Green Zone"?
I recommend 'catch it"!

poorni March 23, 2010 at 3:44 PM  

Hey Chhaya... posted sumthin after looooong time.thanks for askin :)

Chhaya March 24, 2010 at 8:39 AM  

@Vittal : hehe. only u can get awa with the i is routine ;)

btw, i love movies, provided they are not the rom-com types. I will review more in near future and lets hope Zoom hires me to write the review for them and pay me too ;)

Chhaya March 24, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

@Idle : so i will take that as a compliment :D

its not often that i get called a sensitive person. Mostly its the - You are heartless - tag floating around my neck :)

PS: i agree abt the sharing the whole screenplay. its more an essay than a review when u do that.

Chhaya March 24, 2010 at 8:44 AM  

@crazzy : Zaroor dekhna. for the action part, if not for too much mind reading ;)

Chhaya March 24, 2010 at 8:44 AM  

@Raj : i hvnt... so i will catch it ASA i can :)

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