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3.4 out of 5 stars
The Hurt Locker [DVD]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you enjoy modern-day war-style drama's this film may well be for you.
The film is most certainly intense, and should hold your attention.
It follows 'Bravo' unit, a 'U.S' Bomb Disposal team during it's final 30 days or so of 'tour of duty'
It deals with the tensions and fears of the unit's members as they try to defuse bombs, handle suicide bombers, and of course face ambush situations.
The film is set during the American occupation of 'Bagdad' during one of the most controversial conflicts of modern times, which in truth we all have differing views of ( me ? i think it should have reached a conclusion first time around '1991', which may well have avoided the '2003' return, credibility for the action, many including myself, was a little questionable, i'm sure that many have a different opinion of it ? )
the film is so worthy of a spin.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2012
The Hurt Locker is a great film in every respect and is destined to be a classic which will be talked about in the next century. I can see, however, that some people won't 'get it' because it dispenses with most of the technical and narrative means that almost every Hollywood war movie avails itself of. But if you can put your expectations on one side, the film is amazingly fresh and powerfully moving.

The use of hand-held camera, which often has documentary resonances, together with a narrative evenness which treats all moments as equally significant could be expected to produce a distancing/alienating effect in the viewer, and if you are expecting crescendos and diminuendos it probably does just that. Yet these devices are capable of having the opposite effect, drawing the viewer into the very grit and grain and breath and terrible ambiguity of events as they unfold for a team of bomb disposal technicians operating in the dangerous streets of Iraq. Impeccable editing makes this work and you end up knowing in your bone-marrow that war is hell, that soldiers end up doing their own thing as plans give way to chaos, that for some war is nevertheless addictive, and that seemingly ordinary people are capable of insane degrees of bravery.

The direction and acting are superb and without the slightest false note. Particularly look out for a scene in which Jeremy Renner's Sergeant William James answers his compadre's question on how he faces the high probability of death day after day, and apparently without fear. With a few deft strokes, the character of William James becomes rounded, complex, utterly human and complete. [The protagonists are ambling along in an armoured vehicle, chatting rather laconically.]

Give this film a chance and it will blow you away!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
With competition like the outstanding `District 9' and the visually stunning `Avatar' released in 3-D in 2009 (not to mention `The Blind Side'), it's difficult to understand how Kathryn Bigelow's film could justifiably be considered the best film of the year by the Academy. Life is full of surprises.

The Hurt Locker of the title refers to a box of bomb parts, fuses and detonators which Sgt William James, the main character at the centre of the story, keeps under his bed. These are souvenirs of all the bombs that almost killed him, but didn't. The film has a few plus points: building of tension, the realism of the environment (filmed in Jordan with Iraqi ex-pats playing Iraqi citizens and insurgents) and conveying the lethality and horror of the work the EOD team do. However there are too many shortcomings for this to be a great film, and classic status is an unlikely future.

First of all, there is no real plot or development of character and the story goes nowhere. From a straw poll of people I know who have also seen the film the audience does not easily warm to the three main players and frankly doesn't much care what happens to them. I certainly didn't. The characters are only one step beyond cardboard cut-outs.

Secondly, bomb disposal teams in the real world do not risk their own lives and those of colleagues recklessly by defusing lethal ordnance by hand when small robot vehicles are perfectly capable of doing the job, as shown in the first scene - not more than once anyway, without facing serious disciplinary action. The `maverick hero challenging staid authority' theme, a favorite staple of Hollywood, is pushed to incredulity here.

Thirdly, even a viewer who has not served in the military can see many of the anomalies which make the whole film look sloppy. Three guys in an EOD team repeatedly alone in a potentially hostile environment, with no supporting infantry or cover? Come on. The new pixelated uniforms are anachronistic for 2004, when the film is supposed to be set. When the main protagonist James - a serving US Army sergeant no less - hijacks a shady DVD-seller's car by holding a gun to the guy's head and orders him to drive to the house of a murdered young boy's family, well, at that point I'm afraid suspension of disbelief went too far. The whole scene was utterly preposterous, pure fantasy, unreal: the very worst of Hollywood is no less believable than this. The three's subsequent race through dark alleyways in Baghdad at night with flashlights on their helmets searching for suspected bombers (LIGHTED FLASHLIGHTS ON THEIR HELMETS FOR GOD'S SAKE!) well, Kathryn, you lost my interest. That's just plain stupid. Then the leg-wounded Sergeant Eldridge is evacuated in an ancient Vietnam-era Huey helicopter. In 2004. Yeah.

Why not get these details right? It's not difficult. Because these numerous gaffes are not compensated by plot, storyline, script or anything else to hold the viewer's interest, boredom and impatience set in so that the anomalies come into sharper focus.

Considering the relatively modest (by current Hollywood standards) budget the film does look gritty and real. It actually looks like Iraq. Competent direction and editing ensure the film is a white-knuckle rollercoaster of tension for much of the running time but because of insufficient episodes of light and shade the tension paradoxically starts to become monotonous and loses its edge. The hand-held camera work, used so effectively by Spielberg in `Saving Private Ryan' to convey chaotic, combat-urgent realism, is appropriate but hardly original and has been done better by others. And who were those Brits disguised as Arabs in the middle of the desert supposed to be? Mercenaries? Special Forces? We're not told. They seem to be featured to remind American viewers there are other foreign forces in Iraq and so it's confusing, and this particular crew's main function seems to be to get shot dead in the fire-fight to add to the drama.

On the positive side, the film is refreshingly apolitical and does not (unlike `Avatar') preach to the audience and tell them what they should think. The political views of the writer/director are not put into the mouths of the actors, and the viewer is left to make up his own mind what he thinks about the wisdom or folly of the conflict in a broader geopolitical context.

The short scene near the end of the film with James back home with his wife and young son, engaged with the banalities of everyday suburban life like cleaning leaves from rain drains and shopping at the supermarket, is understated and well, OK. However, we have no feeling of the relationship between James and his wife or why he should choose to leave his infant son and return to his lethal work in Iraq except the premise that `war/life-threatening danger is a drug, an addiction.' Yeah, profound. This could have been a rich and powerful dramatic scene if handled well but the opportunity is lost and the theme is not convincingly explored.

Dare one suspect the Academy's best film and best direction awards decisions were guided by sensitivity to the essentially worthy subject matter of `The Hurt Locker' and the feeling that to pass over this film might be seen as an insult to the serving soldiers in Iraq? That to award the Oscar to Bigelow's ex-husband's `Avatar' might be seen as confirmation that Hollywood is just about escapist entertainment spectaculars and simplistic, PC-driven new-age platitudes? Maybe the Oscar was awarded to Bigelow on gender grounds to have a female director win for the first time, even though the film itself barely deserves it. We can only speculate. Not a good decision on artistic grounds because although `The Hurt Locker' is not an outright bad film, it's not very good either. A better film with this subject matter might have been made. The other major war-themed movie of 2009, `Inglorious Basterds' although containing all Tarantino's violent fantasy-comic-book excesses, nevertheless has a tight and clever plot, strongly defined characters, superlative script, wicked black humor and an outstanding denoument which puts it way ahead of Bigelow's thinner offering as a satisfying viewing experience.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I experienced an interesting contrast yesterday when I took my kids to see the technically brilliant James Cameron 3D blockbuster "Avatar" which is a stunning visual treat and hugely enjoyable albeit with a story line which is essentially "Dances with Wolves" in space. I also watched in the evening "The hurt locker" on blu ray. If given a choice of which of the two films to keep and treasure it would be Kathryn Bigelow's epic study of three technicians of a specialist bomb disposal squad operating in Iraq on the streets of Baghdad. Indeed the real stars of the film are the ordinary children and adults of the troubled Iraqi capital some of whom could be potential insurgents that gives the film an overwhelming air of unpredictability and suspense.

The film centres on a elite team and particularly the role of "Will" played by the excellent Jeremy Renner an adrenaline junkie who strides up to IEDs as if he was bomb proof. Sergeant Will James both loves war and yet is a mass of contradictions. Renner's performance is excellent and the film in general has "Oscar" written all over it. Alongside "Will" are the young GI, Specialist Owen Eldridge, played by Brian Geraghty who performance of a marine visibly cracking up is spot on. Then there is my favourite character, the experienced African-American Sergeant JT Sanborn played by Anthony Mackie who is not the "inevitable black grunt" of Vietnam films but a more subtle character who nonetheless cannot fathom his predicament. The impact that Will James already has on a team with only 38 days left until they return home combined with the sheer intensity of the Iraq experience are the central themes.

The movie is a succession of memorable set pieces but with Bigelow's direction emphasising the sparse and thus building in tension throughout. At one point I found my hands sweating and needed to pause to film because the tension is so unbearable. Similarly with the Ralph Fiennes "cameo" scene of "contractor" Brits who end up in a lengthy shoot out with insurgents one can almost feel the desert heat. There are numerous scenes like this which are also combined with the sheer tedium of being a soldier. One scene shows Renner in an American supermarket confounded at the vast array of breakfast cereals that face the American consumer. These multiple choices stand in stark contrast to the black and white risk reality of downtown Baghdad. As Sanborn once simply states "every time you suit up you live or die". Bigelow's film is not a statement about geo politics; it does not moralise about the conflict but gives you its smells, flavours and tastes from ground view. It is nerve shredding, visceral and captures the experience of what Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian describes as "the physical trauma of being in close proximity, time after time, to the deafening blast of an explosion, controlled or otherwise. That obscene noise and, perhaps just as awful, the tense prelude of compressed silence, encloses you in a tight prison of pain: the "hurt locker".

True the film doesn't flow easily in some parts and the dialogue can be very muggy and difficult to understand. Similarly if you like war films high on action and combat get "Black Hawk Down" since this film will be a bitter disappointment. If alternatively you recognise that war is both the most sobering experience but also an assault on the senses then the Hurt Locker should be purchased since it is a truly great film and one of the best of 2009.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2014
I had heard so much good about this film that I was expecting the "Platoon" of the Iraq war.

Unfortunately in spite of the efforts of the cast and crew, I found it fairly disjointed, quite simplistic in parts, and utterly predictable in many sections. Some spoilers ahead.

The direction is quite pretentious in its Bourne 2 and 3 shaky-hand camerawork. The characters come across as very two-dimensional and the film misses lots of opportunities to take us into their inner world beyond a few platitudes.

The main character behaves like a maverick and his behaviour seems to be symptomatic of our times: "me, me, me" before anything else, before teamwork and orders. Which is fine when he manages to defuse bombs, not so much when innocent people get threatened or hurt by his childish traits. It's very hard to feel any warmth or empathy for him.

In all, because of a lack of focus, purpose and a cohesive, reflective voice, it's a film which doesn't really convey much depth about the war in Iraq or war in general. Having failed in that respect, it also fails as an action film (which I understood it was meant to be superior to).

A major let-down
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on 10 April 2014
Great price, superb picture quality and excellent sound.

The slow-motion shots are simply incredible on Blu-ray.

As for the storyline, sometimes I enjoy it, other times not so much.

I think this movie could have potentially been bad, but the superb acting and directing is what makes this movie stand out from the rest. This is quite original as compared to other war-type movies. It doesn't fit many cliches which is good.

I would thoroughly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2014
Decent movie, slightly abrupt ending but not enough to ruin the overall quality of the movie! Definitely would recommend to a friend
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2013
I really enjoyed the storyline of this film. Ignore the people who claim it's merely pro-US propaganda with a weak plot to entertain the Arab-hating masses.

Cinematically this film is good, there are some very nice shots of the surrounding landscape and it gives an accurate insight into the 'unseen' neighbourhoods in the Middle East.

The steel book case makes a nice addition to my growing Blu Ray collection too and the included picture postcards from pivotal moments in the film are a nice surprise, although I'm not entirely sure what one is meant to do with them.

All in all, a good film with excellent aspects (I sound like OFSTED!) but doesn't warrant a full 5 stars because I feel I would like to have explored the characters a little more.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Set in modern Baghdad, The Hurt Locker follows the lives of three of the US Army's bomb disposal technicians as they battle insurgents and their own nerves to stay alive in the world's most dangerous war zone.

The Hurt Locker was directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Blue Steel,Point Break) and was released in 2008 to much fanfare and critical acclaim. It was nominated for nine Oscars and eventually won six (trumping such luminaries as Cameron, Tarantino and Jackson) but it's hard, now, to see what the fuss was about. It is a fairly conventional war movie - typical Hollywood fare in fact - and I can see nothing (well, almost nothing) about it that lifts it above the herd and it is certainly not the equal of, for instance, Saving Private Ryan,Das Boot or Platoon.

Yes, it's well shot and composed, effectively conveying the dusty, sweaty, grimy life of a soldier in front-line Iraq. To be sure, there are some award winning individual shots (the slo-mo explosion sequence where the dust jumps off the roof of a car is particularly tasty) but the ensemble is barely above the ordinary - Three Kings did it just as well.

It's well acted. Jeremy Renner does a fine job as the maverick bomb disposal tech (you may be able to guess where I'm going to go with this), Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty convince as his strung-out support crew and there are some surprising (and brief) cameos from Ralph Fiennes, David Morse and Guy Pearce. But, again, the acting is merely convincing: steely eyes, square jaws, head-in-hands-despair... all that sort of thing.

The story, I'm afraid, is what lets the film down. The word "maverick" really should be banned from use in Hollywood these days (Tom Cruise and Tony Scott have so much to answer for). It really does a profound disservice to the exeptional bravery and professionalism of bomb disposal technicians of all nationalities to see the lead character yank a cluster of IED's from the ground by their detonating cords, opening the boot of an explosive-laden car by means of a hefty kick or letting off a smoke grenade as he approaches the danger zone "to create a diversion". There are plenty of other military mess-ups; some of these are clearly excusable cinematographic necessities (soldiers standing around in tight groups, M113 armoured personnel carriers instead of Bradleys and so-on). However, plenty of others are inexcusably sloppy, betray the absence of a decent (or any) military advisor and seem simply to have been included for the purposes of sensationalism. I was particularly offended when the three main characters rushed off alone and on foot into the hostile night-time Baghdad suburbs to track down a bomber... and then split up because "we can cover more ground that way" for heavens' sake! If the US Army really operate like this (and I cannot convince myself that they do) there is hardly any surprise that the war has lasted so long, costed so much and achieved so little as it has.

In the end, this is a deeply ordinary war movie and it is prone to many of the usual war movie cliches; tensions between the maverick and his by-the-book colleague ultimately resolved, friendship with with the local street urchin, the race against time, shall I cut the red wire or the blue wire? just can't adjust to life on back in the world, oh the horror! oh the humanity! think of the children!

Without the hype that it received it would have made a perfectly acceptable war movie and I would happily have given it three stars. Because of the hype, my sensibilities are offended and I can only give it two.

If you really want to know what it is like to be an EOD officer in Iraq, there are plenty of decent memoirs - Eight Lives Down being a great place to start.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2011
Its very hard to disagree with a lot of the comment made in some of the less than complimentary reviews. The characters arent particularly likeable, the plot doesnt move on particularly well. However the film is a series of brilliant set piece scenes, each one had me gripped, each one brilliantly put together. Their brilliance alone save the film and make it very watchable
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