Kathryn Bigelow, the director who gave us splendid vampire movie Near Dark (one of my favourites) and equally enjoyable SF flick Strange Days, really hits the mark with The Hurt Locker.
I finally caught the Oscar-winning movie last night, and wow.
The title is certainly apt, with the film following the events that befall a team of bomb-disposal experts in Baghdad with the arrival of a new leader, Will James (Jeremy Renner).
James is an adrendalin junkie, much to the concern of his new team-mates: after all, when you’re defusing bombs, you’d like a steady hand on the wire-cutters.
This is no Good Morning Vietnam or Blackhawk Down or, thank God, The Green Berets. There is no singular enemy for the team to overcome, no overarching narrative of right vs wrong, no great moralising: it’s a very personal story about men reacting under the most dire of pressure, and the relationship that forms between them.
Bigelow has shot this brilliantly in a semi-documentary style that gives it emphasis without playing too many emotional violin strings (and in fact, music is used scarcely and brilliantly).
The acting is superb (with notable roles for Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce, the tension palpable at times, the story unpredictable in its events if not its conclusion. And, like most good war movies, it leaves you asking, why.
I expect The Hurt Locker (official site and YouTube preview) will rank in the best movies of my year.
Here’s a sample of the superb music in the film, Khyber Pass by Ministry, played over the closing credits.