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Blown away by The Hurt Locker again

October 29th, 2011  |  Published in Gems

Kathryn Bigelow’s stunning Oscar-winning drama The Hurt Locker delivers every time you watch it.

I saw The Hurt Locker in the cinema when it came out. I’ve got the DVD and have watched it a bunch of times. But I found myself sitting in front of the TV to watch its network premiere and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

There have been blowbacks from the Oscars in recent years – pictures (or actors) winning that have then been the subject of articles that seem to either trash, or bring into question why the award was given in the first place. Apart from, I think, an article from a marine that said Sgt James was modelled on him, there have been no such instances for this┬ámovie that quite rightly took away six golden statues in 2010 – with the exception of Barry Ackroyd‘s phenomenal cinematography and Jeremy Renner’s riveting central performance, that were also nominated. ‘You’ll know it when you’re in it’ said the film’s tagline and what you went into was a blistering two hours and 11 minutes showing the hell of modern day warfare – the hard choices, confusion, camaraderie, loss, pain, even elation. What a journey.

The Hurt Locker_posterEvery once in a while you see a performance that truly stands out and makes you sit up and go wow. This was one of those times with Jeremy Renner – an actor whose performances from Dahmer to Take to The Assassination of Jesse James, have always drawn you in but who here was allowed centre stage to portray a fascinatingly conflicted and enigmatic character – a man driven to help people by a strange job, that’s the only thing anymore that makes him feel alive. Combining a physical power, with a tenderness at the core, its a great portrayal and one that made people take notice.

I read once that Bigelow had seen his electric performance as Jeffrey Dahmer in the 2002 movie and remembered it and then six years later called him up, as she felt he was the one to play Sgt James. One of those cool anecdotes that whether its true, or just good copy, is a great story. The Mission: Impossible and Bourne franchises look exciting prospects for the future with him on board.

Mention should also go to Brian Geraghty and Anthony Mackie as Eldridge and Sanborn respectively, for their superb performances. Geraghty, so great in Jarhead and Mackie, whose work in pictures like Half Nelson has always been brilliant. The scene near the end of the movie between James and Sanborn, when the latter is on the edge of breaking down is a fantastic moment. Mark Boal‘s script, cutting to the heart of a nightmare but with really brilliant touches of humour in places: “What’s the best way to dismantle one of these things? “The way you don’t die, sir” deservedly also won awards.

And then there’s Kathryn Bigelow, whose achievement in direction was vastly and rightly honoured. Some would think for a woman to direct a story like this would be strange but she’s shown herself to be an artist of multiple genres in the past – moving between cop buddy action thriller, prophetic future vision, vampire drama and historical re-enactment. It didn’t feel like this was just another exploration into a new area though. You can feel the passion and commitment to this story and these men in the fabric of every shot, every scene. I think she’ll make many other startling films but this will be the film she’ll be remembered for.

If you haven’t been inside The Hurt Locker yet, it’s time you were.

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