The Hurt Locker Blu Ray|
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker follows US Sergeant James who takes over an elite bomb disposal team in the centre of the volatile conflict in Iraq. Despite only having a short amount of time left before their tour of duty ends, thrill-seeker James thrusts his troops into a deadly game of cat and mouse, with seemingly no regard for their safety.
The men struggle to control their feral leader, but as the city plunges into chaos, James' true nature reveals itself and his risk taking drives each man to the edge.
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Average Rating for The Hurt Locker [Blu-ray]  - 4 out of 5
(based on 2 user reviews)
The Hurt Locker [Blu-ray] George Yates
WOW - I was expecting this to be dull after reading other reviews, but it took me by surprise. Good performances all round. You are immersed in the action and you can really feel the tension in each disposal situation. Respect to the blokes doing this for real.....
The Hurt Locker [Blu-ray] Jon Meakin
The Hurt Locker is a powerful and tense thriller. And to be specific, an action-thriller before it's a war drama. Maybe that's why it has struggled to find an audience outside of critics, because it really isn't what you might expect. One popular criticism I have seen repeated is the naive statement, "it doesn't know what it wants to be". Oh, it does. It knows exactly and its recent win at the Academy Awards is an encouraging sign that they can recognise something a little different and reward audacity.
It is worth noting that Kathryn Bigelow, albeit with a short C.V. in this respect, is one of the action genres most important directors, not least because of her fascination with the male psyche; her characters are usually men addicted to danger, which makes her work a nice counter-point to her ex-husband James Cameron, whose speciality is strong women. Interesting that she released Point Break in the same summer as his Terminator 2 and now defies the pundits to snatch the Oscar from Avatar. She has matured a great deal as a director since Point Break and I do think The Hurt Locker is a more important film than Avatar because it is a progression of its genre, not the technology, developing neatly from Paul Greengrass's work on Bourne and United 93 to meld hard, gritty reality with movie-world heightened-reality to make a truly perfect action film. Bigelow has shown subtleties in The Hurt Locker that can only come from an inherent understanding of action cinema and what the audience is willing to accept (she may need a bit more time on that score, sadly!) and it sets an interesting precedent. It'll be interesting to see how The Green Zone by Greengrass (that sentence is going to get annoying) measures up.
As a war film it leans more toward Apocalypse Now than Saving Private Ryan, but a better comparison is Three Kings, set during the first Gulf War, which was actually a heist film. As with that film, don't go into this expecting a war drama with requisite action set-pieces, but instead, look for an action movie that happens to be set in a very real situation. It works brilliantly well.
Much of the success is down to the superb Oscar winning screenplay by Mark Boan and Jeremy Renner's deservedly nominated role. Many action movies are ruined by trying to contrive set-pieces, but here, Renner's Sergeant James is the plot and Iraq is the perfect place for him to develop from a maverick rule-breaker to someone who accounts for and thrives in his unique environment of what is probably the most dangerous job you can have. Renner is marvellous in a role that could so easily have been 'Martin Riggs goes to war' (though more of a drama film, Colin Farrell cuts a similar figure in Joel Schumacher's Tigerland).
But you can easily over-think such a film this. Acid test: I spent most of The Hurt Locker forgetting to breathe. Or blink. Bomb disposal is as stomach churning as you could imagine! As suspense goes, there is nothing to match it right now and it is unashamedly entertaining yet sobering in how stark the reality is. Sergeant James is an absurd character who surely wouldn't be tolerated in the military, but if you can suspend disbelief just as you would for something like Lethal Weapon, you will allow him to pull you into a world that is terrifyingly real and during the clever sniper scene he finds a real place in the team and the plot takes a less obvious direction.
Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd gives the film a similar feel to his work on United 93 and keeps the realism, but it has more room to breathe as a bona fide action film so there is some fantastic, indulgent photography that never feels out of place. The handheld camera offsets any possibilities of arty manipulation and keeps it grounded, while hiding its low budget origins and it looks excellent in high-definition. The level of detail makes the dry dusty streets so tangible you might find yourself checking your shoes for dust!
If you are looking for an insightful commentary on Iraq, this is the wrong film; there is a brief scene showing Renner trying to fit in at home which does accentuate his addiction to Iraq, but that angle is better explored by the excellent BBC drama Occupation from last year and is worth looking up in any case. The Hurt Locker is an honest adrenaline rush, if you allow it. The only thing wrong with it is timing, but hopefully it will eventually find an appreciative audience on Blu-Ray.
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