Friday, July 17, 2009

The Hurt Locker: explosive drama

The Hurt Locker
3 Stars

By Joe Maniscalco

The frame is jumpy and chaotic as evacuation orders blare from a loudspeaker and everywhere Iraqi men, women and children scurry for cover. Into the panic rolls a remote control robot sent out across the rubble to investigate an ominous package left in the middle of the street.

Welcome to the war -- and, as we’ve come to learn, war is hell. But as provocative and unsettling as it may be to contemplate, the carnage of combat can also be something even darker. It can be fun.

How else to describe Staff Sgt. William James, the protagonist of director Kathryn Bigelow’s intense Iraqi War drama “The Hurt Locker” and his unrelenting recklessness in the face of enough TNT to blow him to smithereens ten times over?

At the outset of “The Hurt Locker” - a film that must now be considered as the definitive meditation on the Iraq War thus far - James’ behavior might easily be attributed to war-weary nihilism pushed past the point of sanity. But as this taut story of a three-man U.S. Army bomb squad sweating it out in Iraq until their next rotation unfolds, it becomes clear that there’s more than just mental exhaustion fueling the staff sergeant’s heroics.

TV cop Jeremy Renner is compelling as the inscrutable James while Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty are both absorbing as the staff sergeant’s equally brave but befuddled subordinates. “The Hurt Locker” remains as tightly wound throughout its two hours and 11 minute-run time as a homemade detonator set to go off in your face at any moment.

Be prepared for the anarchy right out of the gate as Bigelow lifts a page straight out of Alfred Hitchcock handbook that leaves the audience as unnerved and adrift as the soldiers biding their time in the harsh and unforgiving desert. Just remember -- you get to go home when the lights go up.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty. Rated R, 2 hours and 11 minutes.


Ryan,  July 18, 2009 at 11:29 PM  

Good review, man. Thanks.

Ryan,  July 20, 2009 at 4:09 PM  

Saw the movie. Liked it. Thanks again, man.

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