Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

April 9, 2010

In the line of fire

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 12:54 am

April 09, 2010

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

The Hurt Locker, as you’ve probably heard already, is the best Iraq War movie to come out of Hollywood. Director Kathryn Bigelow chucks aside political commentary for nerve-rattling suspense, and delivers a film that demands to be seen.

Scripted by combat journalist Mark Boal, the film follows a three-man bomb disposal unit of the US Army’s Bravo Company that must comb the streets of Baghdad for the IEDs (improvised explosive devices) left by increasingly violent insurgents.

Although they’re kitted in shrapnel-resistant suits and have hi-tech robotic devices at their disposal, this team cannot stop every blast, as we learn with devastating impact in one of the film’s early scenes. Ultimately it comes down to staying alert, keeping your cool, and making educated guesses. Which brings us to Sgt Will James (played remarkably by Jeremy Renner), a reckless fatalist who takes risks in a field already primed with too many risks. He’s the kind of guy who removes body armour during disposal jobs, and strides into the Kill Zone himself instead of sending in the remote-controlled robot to investigate possible bombs. You can hardly blame his teammates for their discomfort with his suicidal displays of bravado.

Focusing squarely on the subjective experiences of men under pressure, The Hurt Locker is a film that wants to put you in their suits and take you inside their heads. Indeed this is a psychological thriller that replicates the intensity of actually being there yourself.

In the film’s final, heart-breaking scene when James has returned home and is confronted with the banal realities of shopping for his meals — too many options for everything from breakfast cereal to chopped vegetables — we know where he belongs.

With solid camerawork and intuitive editing, Bigelow assembles a riveting film that makes your heart pound.

I’m going with four out of five and two thumbs up for director Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. It won six Oscars this year, including Best Picture and Best Director. Catch it this weekend; you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.

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