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Monday, 31 August 2009

Film: Hurt Locker – directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Star rating - 10/10

I wasn’t prepared for this film at all. Not an out and out anti war film, but squarely on the side of the soldiers, it is relentless, powerful and absolutely engrossing. Director Kathryn Bigelow wants us to really feel what it is like for the three main characters in this drama, and boy did I sweat with them.

The action follows the exploits of a three man special unit who deal with IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in Iraq in 2004 in the final 38 days of their tour of duty. Sgt James (superbly played by Jeremy Renner) joins the team as their leader to replace their previous boss who was blown up by a bomb. James is an adrenaline junkie who seems almost suicidal in his quest to do his job of disarming the powerful devices, with many enemy eyes watching his every move, many times without his full protective suit. He takes risks that his fellow unit members are appalled at, but they also have to respect his sheer bravery and audacity, and have no choice but to follow where he leads.

The full horror of the realties of being is such a hostile environment unfold in a series of almost impossible missions. The audience are gripped by the action, and by the moments of immense tension throughout the entire film, as the soldiers trawl through abandoned buildings and remote desert locations on their missions.

There are a couple of notable cameo performances from Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes, but the main action is always with James and his men. Great performances are also had from Brian Geraghty as Specialist Eldridge, who is clearly on the verge of a breakdown; and from Anthony Mackie as Sgt Sanborn, who at one point is even tempted to kill James and make it look like an accident just to escape from his recklessness.

In the end, for me, this was a film about the futility of war, and the bravery of the soldiers who fight in it, as well as the untold damage that it does to them, during or long after the conflict. One of the most telling comments on war, which seemed so out of place with the obvious reality we were watching, is from the hapless army doctor, who tells Eldridge that he should have a good time as war is also supposed to be fun.

No fun at all is to be had though, in this fantastic film, that I am sure will stay with me for a very long time.

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