Movie Review
The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker poster
By Craig Younkin     Published June 21, 2009
US Release: June 26, 2009

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jeremy Renner , Guy Pearce , Ralph Fiennes , David Morse

R for war violence and language.
Running Time: 131 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $11,595,912
C+
We’re invited to a birds-eye view of what it's like on the ground right in the middle of a war zone, but the limited amount of character development and story hurts it.
Iraq War films have proven to be box office poison in the past and most have met with varying degrees of critical success. Watching “The Hurt Locker," I doubt that there is enough here to warrant much of a commotion. If you’re looking for a comparison, much of it will remind you of the second half of “Full Metal Jacket." Yes, that’s the half that most people call the lackluster one. We’re invited to a birds-eye view of what it's like on the ground, right in the middle of a war zone, but the limited amount of character development and story hurts it.

Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty star as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team. Renner is the leader, a cowboy who likes to do things his own way and the other two are his more conservative underlings. As they struggle to reign in the wild man, the men must contend with danger and urban combat at every turn if they want to make it out alive and get home to their families. Guy Pearce ("Memento"), David Morse ("16 Blocks"), and Ralph Fiennes ("The Constant Gardener") make brief cameos as superior officers.

Director Kathryn Bigelow has proven she’s the real deal before with “Point Break” and “Strange Days.” She’s a good action director who knows how to up the suspense. Action is not this movie’s problem. It utilizes an effective use of quiet and Barry Ackroyd’s frenzied hand-held cinematography gives the movie a documentary-style approach and feeling that a threat could be just around the corner, on top of a roof, or a couple miles away. And there are lots of gun battles and bomb defussions, something that serves the movie well at first but not as they keep going on and on. Repetition of straight action and not enough scenes where we get to know the characters are the real hurt on Mark Boal’s screenplay. The movie clocks in at over two hours and staying with it for that long is not the easiest thing to do.

As far as performances go, Renner is the one standout. Playing a cocky adrenaline junkie who doesn’t really fit anywhere but on the battlefield, the actor known for roles in “The Assassination of Jesse James” and “SWAT” hits the performance out of the park. He’s very effective, especially in a scene where he stands fully clothed washing off other people’s blood. It has the kind of power that the rest of the movie just doesn’t have. Had it gone with more scenes like this, “Hurt Locker” would have been a much stronger reccomendation. As it is, it’s hard to see this movie making much of a splash.
Craig's Grade: C+
Craig's Overall Grading: 333 graded movies
A11.1%
B41.4%
C31.5%
D15.6%
F0.3%
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