MONKEY REVIEW: The Hurt Locker

August 2, 2009

thehurtlocker“War is a drug.”

Not just one of the best films of 2009 so far, but one of the best war movies ever, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker focuses on the last 39 days of a bomb squad’s rotation in 2004 Iraq. The support squad (Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, both excellent in their roles) has been saddled with a new team leader (Jeremy Renner), who is seemingly reckless and borderline nihilistic, and soon they begin to fear he is going to get them killed. Much of The Hurt Locker, and almost all the action scenes, are shot in a cinéma vérité-like style, with hand held cameras putting you uncomfortably close to the action. There are set pieces in the movie that are among the most harrowing and suspenseful I have ever seen, so on that level, it certainly works as an action film. On a deeper level, its depiction of addiction to war, personified by Renner, who gives what I’m positive will be an Academy Award nominated performance, may be revelatory to some audiences, and will certainly keep them pondering the movie long after its haunting final image. (Another interpretation of Renner’s condition is that he’s been deeply traumatized, and like a good number of trauma victims, has begun to feel like a ghost in his own life.) I can’t say The Hurt Locker is a movie without its flaws, but neither would I say that those flaws in any way blunt its impact. It’s brilliantly directed, with a minimum of flash and a rejection of rapid fire cutting, from an excellent, insightful script by Mark Boal, and brought to life by a terrific cast. The Hurt Locker is a future classic.

MONKEY RATING: ZERO MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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