The Hurt Locker: A Heart-Pounding Adrenaline Rush

18 02 2010

It seems Avatar‘s biggest competition this Oscar season is The Hurt Locker. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (which everyone is keen to point out, is 1) a woman directing a gritty military drama, and 2) James Cameron’s ex-wife), The Hurt Locker is tied with Avatar for a total of 9 Oscar nominations, most notably for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture. Here’s the breakdown:

An elite Army bomb squad in Iraq must put themselves in harm’s way every day, disarming bombs and hostile situations in an effort to keep civilians and military personnel safe.

The Monkey: Due in large part to its documentary-style directing, The Hurt Locker is one of the most tense, suspenseful, adrenaline-infused movies I’ve ever seen. There were several moments in the film that not only gets your heart racing, but afterward, you’ll realize you were even sweating! Without using cheap tricks, or cliche film gimmicks, The Hurt Locker delivers on suspense while maintaining its originality.

Jeremy Renner’s performance was definitely Oscar-worthy; in fact, I almost didn’t even believe he was an actor. His subtle and realistic performance of a hardened bomb sergeant added to the documentary-feel of the movie and it will be exciting to see how his career takes off after all the recent recognition.

The Weasel: The lack of plot in the film, while contributing to the realism and grit of the movie, kept me from fully engaging with the characters. It was more of a “life in the day of a bomb squad” than a movie about a bomb squad. It’s even hard to explain what the movie is about; it’s about a bomb squad in Iraq…and, um…they diffuse bombs. But what else? Sure, we get brief glimpses into the characters’ personal lives, some truly heart-felt moments (in particular a scene where Renner’s character showers completely clothed in his army gear as blood and dirt swirl down the drain and a scene where a fellow squad mate shares his desire to start a family), but without a clear story arc, the viewer is left floundering.

Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes appear in the film, but their roles are surprisingly small and short-lived. While not necessarily a negative comment about the film, it took me by surprise that such big-name actors were used so sparingly.

A masterfully created film that delivers original suspense, eliciting visceral reactions in the viewer. Definitely worthy of its Oscar success; however, I find it surprising that critics consider The Hurt Locker to be Avatar‘s #1 competitor. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens March 7th.

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Is The Hurt Locker Avatar‘s biggest competition at the Oscars? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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One response

23 02 2010
Cal

I don’t understand why this movie is winning awards and is getting so much attention. I didn’t think it was very good (I didn’t even finish it). It seemed more like a documentary…a boring documentary. The cinematography was the best part of the movie, but a movie cannot rely on this feature alone. I’ll admit, the actors were great, but not award worthy.

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