Back in 2010 there was a war brewing at the OSCARS between a former married couple in the form of the billion dollar movie director James Cameron and his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow. Both of their movies, Avatar and The Hurt Locker, were going head-to-head in many categories such as best film and best director, and many people were predicting that Avatar was going to dominate. Yet what happened was that substance won over style, as The Hurt Locker took home 6 OSCARs, including Best Director and Best Film of 2010 to Avatar’s 3 OSCARS.
The Hurt Locker follows a team of US soldiers who have one of the most dangerous jobs for any solider: bomb disposal. This team is a small unit whose sole task it is to go and locate I.E.D’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) and then deliberately put themselves by the device in an effort to make it safe for other people. In this team we find that we have a mixture of soldiers played by Jeremy Renner (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Avengers, 28 Weeks Later), Anthony Mackie (The Adjustment Bureau, Man on a Ledge, Million Dollar Baby), and Brian Geraghty (Jarhead, The Guardian) all of whom are fearless in the face of these challenges.
As far as a plot goes for this movie there is not much of one other than that the movie follows this small squad on the remainder of their tour of duty in Iraq. The squad, who recently lost their previous squad leader in an encounter with a device, have to learn to deal with a new hot-shot (Renner) who’s ways of doing things do not appear to fit in well with the remaining squad members (Geraghty and Mackie).
At each encounter with a new device we find that Renner’s character has different ways to deal with situations, such as when he finds the bomb disposal suit to be too constricting so he removes most of the armour in favour of dealing with the motor vehicle I.E.D. inside the device, disarming it instead of safely detonating it.
Yet this movie is not all about big action explosive action sequences, there is a pause half way through the movie where the squad come across a team of independent security contractors who are hunting down some of the most-wanted list and they are forced to join up with the security contractors in a tense but quiet action sniper battle sequence. Here Bigelow shows off her skill as a director. There’s not a lot of action happening but it is the imposing threat of action that makes this one of the best sequences of the movie.
As far as flaws go, this movie doesn’t suffer from any major ones but there are a couple of minor ones. My personal point to pick up on is the lack of structure to the plot of this movie. Yes I appreciate that we are seeing this unit on a tour of duty in a real life theatre of operation, however other movies have done this in a better manner such as Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan. This lack of structure makes it feel like I’m watching a couple of the most interesting parts of this units’ life, who in turn do not have a goal other than to see it to the end, which, on reflection: is the goal of a tour of duty not to complete it?
Overlooking the lack of structure within this movie, this is a very good movie to show people what day-to-day life can be like in these jobs. Bigelow does decide to show some action pieces as would be expected within a war movie, yet it is in the character interactions that this movie is its strongest. This shines through most towards the end of the movie, after all the action is over, in a kind of epilogue where we see just what life is like for these brave people when lives are not on the line.