Monday, July 13, 2009

The Hurt Locker (***1/2)

The Hurt Locker. 131 mins. R. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Written by Mark Boal. Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, David Morse, Ralph Fiennes, and Evangeline Lily.

The Hurt Locker succeeds where other recent movies on the Iraq War have failed because it focuses on the soldiers and not the politics. It doesn't hurt that it's also a taut and gripping thriller, with a handful of action set pieces that will leave you breathless. Aside from one way-too-cool visual flourish at the beginning, director Kathryn Bigelow stages the scenes with a subtle, ground-zero intensity, and despite the many war films that have preceded The Hurt Locker, she makes the battle sequences pop with verve and originality. Though she's only made a handful of films (Near Dark and Point Break spring immediately to mind), this is probably her overall best effort yet. She's assembled a strong cast of mostly unknown actors in the leads, but filled out with some recognizable faces in key supporting roles (Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, Evangeline Lily). The movie starts to lose steam in the last act, with Jeremy Renner's character being haunted by the death of a young Iraqi boy, but it recovers by the end, just in time to make its thesis point - an important one (some soldiers are addicted to war and don't know how to deal with home life), but one that feels like it's been made many times before. A bit overrated by critics, but still one of the better movies you'll see this year. If you can't get to the theater to see it, don't stress, but definitely add it to your queue.



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