The Mixed Tape

War is a Drug. by Nolan Wilson Goff
September 25, 2009, 12:12 am
Filed under: Film, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

“The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”

The Hurt Locker picSource: UGO Movieblog –

And thus begins The Hurt Locker, a powerful examination of the psyche of a soldier, and the consequent addiction that ensues. The story follows Bravo Company, an elite Army unit, with a dangerous task before them. They defuse bombs. Emphasis on the plural. It is vital that they operate as a team, but newcomer Staff Sergeant Will James has other ideas. He would rather stare death in the face, with his renegade attitude.

You will most certainly find this film on numerous Top 10 lists for the remainder of the year. Sure, it’s not your typical Oscar contender. It’s an independent war thriller, that’s gritty, and has no major stars (with brief appearances by Guy Pierce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, and Evangeline Lilly). And since when has there been a good depiction of the current war in Iraq? Well look no further. The Hurt Locker is the Iraqi conflict film everyone has dreamed about. Critics are calling the film “the first real Oscar contender of 2009.”

And I’ll tell you why:

1. Pace: Many would argue that the film progresses slowly, and I couldn’t agree more. But that, my friends, is the beauty. Kathryn Bigelow‘s masterful direction allows the pace to steadily increase as each scene progresses, until it reaches its peak, and explodes. It is quite possibly the most intense film I have ever seen.

2. It Is What It Is: The Hurt Locker never pretends to be something it isn’t. Is it politically charged propaganda? No. Is it unbiased storytelling? Yes. It simply presents life-like characters in life-like situations, with no ill-conceived notions or jumbled plot points. The film never tries to say too much.

3. Characters: Sure it has its action, and certainly has its intensity, but The Hurt Locker succeeds where most films fail. The audience meets each character and carefully discovers what the character wants. The character development is at the heart of the story, and Bigelow never forgets that. Neither do the actors, who all satisfy the audience’s appetite with visceral performances.

Critics are correct, in calling this film an Oscar contender, thanks to Bigelow’s direction and the stunning performances, not to mention the cinematography.

The Hurt Locker is structured as if it were a bomb. The characters light the fuse as the story progresses, and the addiction begins to set in. The life they once new becomes foreign to the uncertainty of the streets of Baghdad.

The question is, at what point does the bomb explode?

-Nolan Wilson Goff

Source: Youtube –

P.S. I’d expect multiple nominations come Oscar night, including Best Picture and Best Director. Jeremy Renner could be a darkhorse for Best Actor as well. Marco Beltrami’s subtle, but effective, score should also be noted.