Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Hurt Locker" Review

By Alex Bly

“The Hurt Locker,” directed by Kathryn Bigelow, is about an American bomb squad in Iraq. They particularly focus on disarming I.E.D.s (Improvised Explosive Devices) that are planted by terrorists to kill civilians and U.S. military personnel. It is one of the jobs that we rarely hear about and that is what makes the movie so interesting and unique.

According to Yahoo Movies, the director of the film, Kathryn Ann Bigelow, was born in San Carlos, California in 1951. After high school Kathryn studied painting for two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. She also studied Film Theory and Criticism at Columbia University, where she earned a masters degree. Later she went on to direct such films as “Near Dark” in 1987, “Blue Steel” in 1990, “Point Break” in 1991, “Strange Days” in 1995 and “K-12, The Widow Maker” in 2002.

This year, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director, according to IMDB. Her movie “The Hurt Locker” beat her ex-husband James Cameron’s major film “Avatar,” which was expected to win. The official Oscar website shows that she also won against “The Blind Side,” “Inglorious Bastards,” “District 9,” “Up,” “Up in the Air,” “Precious,” “An Education,” and “A Serious Man.”

The reason the win was so unbelievable was that the film was expected by many to be a sleeper film. It was very low budget and only expected to be viewed by people who are truly film fanatics or people interested in this topic. It was truly a win for the underdog this year at the Oscars.

The main character Sergeant James is played by Jeremy Renner. Sergeant James comes in to replace Sergeant Thompson, played by Guy Pearce, who is killed by a remotely detonated explosive in the very beginning of the film. He wears a protective outfit but it does not save him. Sergeant James is not liked by his new squad mates -- Sergeant Sanborn, who is played by Anthony Mackie and Specialist Eldridge who is played by Brian Geraghty. They think he is too brash and not concerned enough about his or their safety.

The reason Sergeant James, the main character is not liked is because he is reckless and takes unnecessary risk. For example, in one part of the movie he doesn’t wear his bomb suit that helps protect him from flying debris and the force of the explosion. He also stays near the bomb until he disarms it even when he is warned that is could blow any second and that he needs to leave.

The terrorists are portrayed as cold and intimidating. In confrontations, they stare down Sergeant James and his bomb squad and ignore their orders. The American soldiers are in constant danger. Their enemies are not just Iraqi soldiers but also some Iraqi civilians, both of whom hate the invading Americans.

Sergeant James is addicted to the danger of being in the bomb squad. He not only shows no fear, but he actually seems to enjoy putting his life at risk. He shows no hate or prejudice against his enemies. He views diffusing the bomb as a challenge of his abilities, and relishes the chance to “defeat” the bombs and traps the enemy has set in his path.

There is one scene that deals with terrorists and not their traps. The main squad at one point encounters friendly British soldiers. While the two teams are having a discussion, an enemy sniper shoots one of the British soldiers. This leads to a heavy fire fight between the terrorists and the American Bomb Squad and British Soldiers. The British take many casualties but in the end the enemy sniper and his team of terrorists are defeated.

One of the themes in the film is decision. The main characters had to decide whether or not to trust these civilians. That had to decide if they thought they would take action to hurt them. In one part of the film a man with a bomb strapped to his chest slowly walks towards the crew and has his hand in the air as if he is coming in peace. He claims the bomb has a timer and they must defuse it quickly or else he will die. They take a while to discuss if they think he is a lying terrorist who will blow up the bomb or a person who actually needs help. In the end the main character decides to help him. It turn out that he is actually a good person who was captured by terrorist. Sergeant James and Sergeant Sanborn try to help him but must leave because they do not have enough time to get it off before the bomb blows up.

In the end of the film, the main character Sergeant James goes home to the U.S. But after a short time with his son, he decides to go back to Iraq once more for another tour of duty. The last scene is him walking towards a bomb to disarm it and the screen shows the number of days he has left as one. Then the number resets, showing he has signed up for another full tour of duty.

What is the reason? I think this is because he actually feels that bomb defusing is something that he is good at. It makes him special because it is the one thing he is better at than anyone else. We hear that he has disarmed over 800 bombs during the war, which seems to be some kind of record. But it is not enough for James. He wants to improve his record.

Overall, I liked the movie a lot. It was entertaining and kept me on the edge of my seat. It was an extremely suspenseful film. I never knew when a character was going to be blown up or shot. For this reason, I would have to give the movie a full four stars out of four.

Alex Bly is a sophmore at Saint Thomas Aquinas College. He currently lives in River Vale, NJ. He is majoring in Criminal Justice.

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