The Hurt Locker (2008)

hurt locker poster 2008 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking, good characters

Good characters are in a so-so story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Hurt Locker

Studio:  Voltage Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  September 4, 2008 (Venice Film Festival)/June 26, 2009 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

hurt locker 2008 guy pierce explosion

Boom goes the dynamite!

After the squad suffers a loss, Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner) finds himself assigned to a bomb unit in Iraq with Sergeant J. T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) under his command.  With Sanborn and Eldridge counting down the days, the introduction of James and his reckless behavior isn’t a welcomed addition.  James is good at what he does, but he also seems to have a death wish…and in a place where everyone wants you dead, it can be a problem.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker is a war drama.  The movie won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing with nominations for Best Actor (Renner) and Best Original Score.  With the win, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female director to win the Best Director Academy Award.  The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2020.

The Hurt Locker was one of those movies that felt really topical.  Like the Vietnam movies of the ‘’80s, it looked at soldiers in the desert conflict that was stretching on-and-on and (at least a little) about what they experienced back home.  The Hurt Locker pulls off compelling, but it also isn’t a very good war movie.

hurt locker jeremy renner anthony mackie fight

We all go a little mad sometimes…

The movie has good characters stuck in a story that feels like a story more than real life.  War is absurdity, but The Hurt Locker takes it to a new level.  Renner’s character is completely damaged, and I understand that, but sneaking off the base and going it alone just don’t feel like realistic events for the squad where you have two other members.  I think there are probably soldiers that risk their lives (maybe unnecessarily) all the time…but I also feel that Renner’s character is clear thinking enough not to risk the lives of Sanborn and Eldridge in his actions.

Renner does a good job as the lead in the film.  He constructs a person caught up in the moment and driven by a high moral standard, but also by bravado and suicidal tendencies.  He’s best matched with Anthony Mackie who just wants to do the job and go home in one piece.  Brian Geraghty plays the “in-between” character who admires Renner to a fault but also wants to please those around him.  The movie features small roles by Guy Pierce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, and Evangeline Lilly.

hurt locker multi bombs jeremy renner

Well…this can’t be good

The movie does nail the visuals.  The explosion scenes and battles feel real and the movie is quite intense in its audio.  The booms are deafening and the explosions are massive.  I wish we had seen more of what a city in Iraq looks like (especially in a conflict) because scenes like Renner’s AWOL moment show a very different Iraq than those throughout the movie…it would have helped to balance out some of the story to see the people and where normal Iraqis live instead of just warzones and deserts.

The Hurt Locker is one of those movies that is a rush when you first watch it but falls apart more on a second viewing instead of enriching it.  While I believe the characters, I don’t necessarily believe the story and that is a shame because if the characters and story synched up better, it would have been a great movie instead of just an entertaining movie.  I could actually see a sequel sometime to see where the three characters end up…that could be more compelling.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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