The Hurt Locker (R) ★★★★

Surely Oscar Worthy!

Taking place in Iraq, 2004, this gripping, extraordinary war tale exploits the lives and
pivotal roles of Army bomb technicians in the Iraqi war. This elite bomb squad, Delta
Company, can only trust their teammates as anyone and anything surrounding them could
cost them their life. Jeremy Renner (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward
Robert Ford
2007) as Staff Sergeant William James plays more than just a cliché macho
soldier. Renner’s character is the complex, wild and fascinating IED (Improvised Explosive
Devices) expert who will stop at nothing. SAG award nominee, Anthony Mackie (We Are
2006, Million Dollar Baby 2004) stars alongside Renner as Sergeant JT
Sanborn, playing the tough and intelligent but more practical partner. The special effects
are very impressive while the minimal musical score and simple use of heartbeats and
natural sound add to the realism.

Staff Sergeant James (SSG James) is the focal point of the story as he not only directs team
but he takes risks his teammates would never implement. His dare devilish personality and
disregard for procedure does not go over well with the team, as these high-stake missions
of disarming homemade bombs cannot afford mistakes. SSG James infuses both panic and
respect in his teammates and the audience. Early on, little is unveiled about his personal
life back in the states, which adds mystery to his character. As the war chaos amplifies so
does the team’s struggle to contain their leader.

The supporting cast, Sgt. Sanborn and Specialist, Owen Eldridge, played by Brian
Geraghty, (Bobby 2006, We Are Marshall 2006) are a great compliment to SGG James’s
character. Sgt. Sanborn’s sensible ways provide the audience with a bit of comfort. As
viewers sit on the edge of their seats seeing SSG James disarm an IED with dozens of
unknown “observers” eyeing his every move they still find comfort knowing that Sgt.
Sanborn could step in. Spc. Eldridge is the youngest team member in search of a mentor.
We see him look up to SGG James and Sgt. Sanborn as he is eager to please but tries to
remain himself at the same time. Sgt. Eldridge’s innocence and truthfulness make him,
“every mother’s son,” in this film. One of the most memorable quotes came from a fearful
Eldridge. When questioning the Army slogan, ‘Be all that you can be,’ he says, “What if all
I can be is dead on the side of an Iraqi road?”

If you thought this film was a documentary, guess again. Filmed in the poorer
neighborhoods of Amman, Jordan (which borders Iraq) award-winning director, Kathryn
Bigelow (Near Dark 1987), made sure her crew worked in the most rigorous conditions.
Using only four handheld cameras to offer multiple viewpoints, Bigelow successfully
allows the audience to feel as though they are in the heart of the war.

Screenwriter, Mark Boal (In the Valley of Elah 2007), helped to inspire this project after he
spent weeks in Baghdad riding dangerously alongside EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
soldiers to reveal the undocumented part of war. His observations encouraged him to share
his appreciation for the young soldiers who put their lives at stake to save thousands of
lives at a time. Using a fictional story in a frighteningly accurate setting, The Hurt Locker,
has become one of 2009’s most acclaimed films.

Bottom Line? This suspenseful, intelligent and eye-opening film is one of a kind. If you
can’t watch all ten Oscar nominated films be sure to put this one at the top of your list!

The Hurt Locker is nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best
Director and Best Actor. Bigelow was also awarded the 2009 Directors Guild of America
Award for Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film for the film. She is the first female
director to ever win this award.

Jessica Aymond © July 31, 2009