Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Hurt Locker: Grade C

The Hurt Locker (2009)
Jeremie Renner, Anthony Mackie, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse; Director Katheryn Bigelow.

This docudrama portrays combat life in Baghdad in 2004. We follow a patrol of US soldiers who disarm bombs. That is an inherently tense setup , as uncountable films and TV shows have demonstrated with timers ticking toward zero while the hero decides which wire to cut. No matter how many times we have watched that cliché, it still has some power, I don’t know why.

In this film, that scene is played out about six times in several mini-dramas with slight variations. Some bombs explode, some don’t. One scene is different, a gun battle at half a mile using long range, high powered rifles.

In between battles and bombs there are the predictable scenes of the guys in barracks, laying on their bunks, smoking cigarettes, talking about the girl back home, making macabre jokes, fighting, the usual stuff.

The lead demolition expert for most of the film (Renner) is a psychopath who scoffs at personal peril, even seeks the excitement, putting the rest of his team at risk. Other cliché characters include the young recruit who is afraid to die, the Iraqi boy who befriends a soldier, and so on. The movie reminds me of “Combat,” a WWII TV series from the sixties that had a similar episodic structure.

Sound effects/music were interesting and well engineered, although emotionally manipulative, like the rest of the film. I did not feel this was a good portrayal of a genuine experience of war in Iraq because the situations and characters were so obviously contrived, yet the film did not exploit its fictional possibilities to make any sort of political or moral statement, as Apocalypse Now did, for example. So as a war movie, it is well made and watchable, but it doesn’t add up to anything.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review, I thought that Hurt Locker was ok but nothing special, keep up the great blog...cheers.P