This is a war movie without politics and that is why it is a success.
The whole Guy Pearce thing...The Hurt Locker is a movie that is all business. It follows a bomb detonator in Iraq named Staff Sergeant James (masterfully played by Jeremy Renner) who leads two other men under his charge. James has no regard for his life or the life of the people around him. He wants to diffuse bombs at all costs and he functions as if Iraq is more play than battleground. This movie opens with a surprise when one of the more well known actors gets blown up. James comes in to take over the reigns and he immediately starts off by doing things differently. In every scene in which a bomb is diffused, he seems to dine a sadistic delight in taking his time with these weapons of mass destruction even when he doesn't have any.
Things continue along this line until Sergeant James' young, Iraqi friend on the base turns up missing. He finds himself constantly thinking about this boy who somehow made an impression on him. So, amidst battling Iraqi insurgents he commandeers a manhunt for this boy that not only puts his men at risk, but forces James to confront and somewhat prioritize what he does and doesn't care about. In the end, The Hurt Locker make a statement at the war in Iraq, however, one could see this movie, never catch the statement it makes, and that would in no way effect the power and enjoyment in seeing this film.
Director Kathryn Bigelow and Writer Mark Boal sit back on this commentary track and talk about bringing this movie to the big screen. While I wanted a few more anecdotes than what I heard, ultimately I think that this track makes for a nice supplement to this movie. I cannot imagine what it must be like to make a movie like this. It is so technical, so open to flaws, and so readymade to be used by both the Right and Left as a propaganda piece. I think it is great that Bigelow and Boal never do that here and thus let The Hurt Locker stand on its own.
The Hurt Locker: Behind The Scenes
A pretty standard image gallery that gives users some stills from both the movie and the making of The Hurt Locker. There isn't anything about this that is that amazing but it is worth checking out as long as you are in the supplemental features section of the DVD.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.78:1. This movie looked really good on standard DVD. Having seen it in the theater I was taken by how well the images transferred over on this release. Make no mistake, while it may be low budget, The Hurt Locker is a war film. Kathryn Bigelow and her Director of Photography Barry Ackroyd seem like they went both wide and deep as far as capturing footage. The editing work done on this film is something to marvel at because no matter how chaotic things get, one can always follow what is happening on screen. And when we can't? We aren't supposed to anyway.
English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English 2.0 Dolby Surround; Espanol: Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitled in English and Spanish. The audio on this movie was good. There is a big, almost Mixed Martial Arts intensity that this movie showcases. One imagines that some of the music is what the soldiers themselves might listen to in order to gear up for combat. However, Bigelow doesn't want things to be one note and as a result of that the characters worlds are opened up greatly by the use of audio to get inside their heads.
There are two images on the cover of this this release. One features a bomb going off and the other features Staff Sergeant James and the other members of his team. There are 6 images on the back of this DVD cover. They all showcase various aspects of the technics behind bomb detonation. There is a description for users to read, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
I loved this movie.
In fact, in my list of the Top 10 films of 2009, the number one film would have to be The Hurt Locker or Inglorious Basterds. What I loved about The Hurt Locker is that this movie is essentially devoid of politics. There's never a point where America is taken to task for being the imperialist nation that we sometimes are. There was never a moment in watching this movie that felt obligatory. In fact, Kathryn Bigelow has done a great job of presenting a situation and the mechanics within, and at no point did I as a viewer ever feel that this movie totally was apolitical or totally an action piece.
I have been a fan of Jeremy Renner since I saw him in 12 and Holding and 28 Weeks Later. There is something about him that is disarming to the viewer. He could be almost anybody. He could play a dim bulb just as easily as he could play Staff Sergeant James. It is this sort of dichotomy he has as a performer that makes The Hurt Locker resonate. In this world of war that we are being made privy to, there is no distinction between race, class, creed or heritage. We are given soldiers on the front line who have a job to do and that is that. Like it or not, the job is getting done.
The Hurt Locker gets that job done in spades.