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The Hurt Locker (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000124586
Added by: David Beckett
Added on: 31/12/2009 17:42
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    The Hurt Locker

    7 / 10

    The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and '03 gave us such new phrases as 'shock and awe', 'extraordinary rendition' and 'unlawful combatants'.  They also introduced new weapons to the mainstream like the enormous 'Daisy Cutter' bomb and, on the other side, opened the NATO soldiers to suicide bombs, whether worn as belts or delivered in trucks.  Possibly the most deadly of all weapons employed against Western servicemen is the improvised explosive device (IED), a roadside bomb that has led to countless fatalities and injuries. 
    The Hurt Locker, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow follows Bravo Company's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit, whose three members have probably the most dangerous job in post-invasion Iraq: disarming IEDs. 

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    When disposal man Sgt. Thompson is killed in the line of duty, Staff Sergeant Will James takes over and joins Sergeant Sanborn and Specialist Eldridge.  His cavalier attitude is evident from the first job and he appears to revel in the adrenaline rush that being at death's door offers, but his ability is unquestioned.  As the three men unit is called out, James is the 'man in the suit' who approaches and tries to disarm weapons with Sanborn and Eldridge as his 'eyes and ears', keeping a look out for snipers, insurgents and anyone with a detonator.
    Bigelow introduces the film with a quote saying how 'war is a drug' and, like any drug, there are those that become addicted and thrive whereas others have real problems and can't wait to get away.  The three characters are all very different, with James using his job as an escape from real life and the fractured relationship that awaits him at home whereas Sanborn is businesslike and the complicated Eldridge, the weakest of the trio, is constantly approached by the Company's psychiatrist who enquires as to his health.  Eldridge is almost a surrogate son to the two more experienced soldiers and spends his time working out which one he should aspire to be.  Their interactions are fascinating and utterly compelling with remarkable performances by the three actors. 
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    Bigelow is best known as an action director, with such films as Blue Steel and Point Break showcasing her ability to make big set pieces and adrenaline rush sequences.  The Hurt Locker is unlike anything she has done before, feeling more like a docu-drama than a studio film and you are pitched right into the action which is supremely well orchestrated with unbelievable tension.  It is a stripped down film with no CGI or stunts, relying on dialogue and realism to create the situations and draw you into the events which seem so real.
    There aren't any big names apart from brief appearances by Guy Pierce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes so the film is about the three EOD experts and the performances by Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty are utterly convincing.  Helping the sense of authenticity was the decision to shoot in the Middle East as the look and palpable heat of Jordan easily passes for Iraq and you feel the oppressive atmosphere.
    This is one of the finest films of 2009 and, with casualties from IEDs continuing to rise, it's release is timely.
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    The Disc

    Extra Features
    This is a film that could have done with plenty of behind the scenes footage, storyboards, a commentary, b-roll footage and other supplementary material so it is a crying shame that all you get is a meagre series of interviews spread across the 'Behind the Scenes' and 'Interviews' featurettes. 
    Picture and Sound
    Sadly all that was provided for review was a compressed version of the retail disc on a DVD-5 so the picture and sound bear no resemblance to the finished article.  As such, these screenshots don't represent the true picture quality.
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    Final Thoughts
    The Hurt Locker is a quite astounding film that is an intelligent commentary not on war, but on warriors.  It shows what it takes to be a soldier, how people deal with extraordinary hardships in their own ways and what it must have been like in Iraq in those months after invasion - when one Iraqi is dealt with roughly and James remarks "If he wasn't an insurgent, he sure is now", you don't know whether he's joking but know he's probably right. 
    This is a great film that is let down by the extra features but is a must see, with a rental probably the way to go.

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