The Hurt Locker: The Real F***ing Deal

Real talk.

Real talk.

I walked into The Hurt Locker with the knowledge that many people whose opinions I value and respect highly recommended it. However, they failed to mention that The Hurt Locker is the realest shit around. The film opens with the words across the screen “war is a drug”. This is apt as it pertains to actual story line. I recommend the addition of “hold on to your butts”.

The Hurt Locker manages to be realistic without sacrificing thrills. It presents interesting characters in life threatening circumstances and You Are There, just as worried as they are, unsure whether they are going to make it out of this alive. Detailing a three man bomb diffusing unit in Baghdad in 2004, The Hurt Locker doesn’t have much of a plot line, more a string of events that happen during this time period. Jeremy Renner plays Staff Sergeant William James, a bomb expert who recklessly but skillfully does his job. Renner’s performance is one of manic determination, but James isn’t a crazy man. As it becomes clear, defusing bombs is what he does well, and really all he knows how to do. Faced with some six bombs buried in the sand, he calmly snips their wires like you or I would take out the trash. Anthony Mackie is Sergeant JT Sanborn, the guy who has to watch James back while he’s hip deep in wires and explosives. His job ends up becoming more stressful as he has to worry about keeping James alive as well as himself.

But let me be real with you for a second. The Hurt Locker is the real fucking deal. I’ve seen some war movies that do the “real fucking deal” bit for a little, but then they get caught up saving privates and walking around a fake looking Saigon. The Hurt Locker doesn’t take any time for that bullshit. These guys are out there, finding bombs, defusing them and trying to stay alive long enough to get up tomorrow to defuse more bombs. Sidestepping all the political and social meanings for a moment, THL is a masterclass in suspense, action AND acting all at the same time. My one buddy mentioned his only qualm was the use of an X-Box 360, which hadn’t been released yet in 2004. So there is your quibble, an X-Box. A sequence where the team is pinned down by enemy snipers in the middle of the desert, colleagues being picked off left and right, might be the most tense sequence ever set to film if not for an earlier scene involving a car full of explosives, rigged with a hidden detonator. Basically, expect the definition of “tense” to say “The Hurt Locker” in the next edition of Webster’s.

Entering into spoiler country here, I liked how the end of the film brought James back home to the U.S. and his wife and baby. Clearly he’s happy to see them, but he isn’t happy walking up and down the aisle at the supermarket, stunned by the prospect of picking out cereal. If that box of Captain Crunch was attached to some C4 and a timer, he would’t sweat it in the slightest. The Hurt Locker‘s closing shot manages to be both triumphant and chilling in the same moment, a man embracing what he does well, but at the possible cost of his life.

Along with being the realest shit ever, The Hurt Locker is right up there as one of the best films of the year. Also kudos to Kathryn Bigelow for proving that every good director has a great film in them. That she also directed Near Dark means she’s done two.

Post script: It’s an ironic statement that the U.S. Army is endorsing G.I. Joe and not The Hurt Locker. I guess undersea battles and accelerator suits are more tempting than the reality of “driving around trying not to get shot”. Truth bomb. Can’t defuse that.


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2 Responses to “The Hurt Locker: The Real F***ing Deal”

  1. McCarty Says:

    Hey asshole, Kathryn Bigelow also directed POINT BREAK, which means she’s done three.

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