Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Hurt Locker

This is an engaging, depressing but gripping movie. It is almost a docudrama with its use of hand-held cameras throughout, its tight-cropped head shots and reeling shots as a reaction to explosions. It is tight, well-paced, well acted and portrays a realism that is too real for the senses to comprehend. It is an excellent film.

The story is simple. The film follows a group of three American soldiers on deployment in Baghdad. Two are regular infantrymen, the third is an explosives expert who disarms IEDs. He is excellent at his job but he is a maverick and his lust for taking things one step too far endangers not only his own safety but also the safety of his colleagues time and time again. After one particularly heroic/cavalier disarming, he is visited by a General who congratulates him on his good work and his attitude. The conversation reveals he has defused more than 880 bombs. He is hooked and lives between the chase to defuse and feelings of guilt over not being there for his young son back home.

The story counts down day-by-day as the end of their deployment approaches. Will they survive? A chance encounter in the desert with an SAS unit hunting down war criminals provides a welcome respite from the chaos of Baghdad - but also a gruesome and unwelcome insight into the clinical effectiveness of long range sniping.

Reminiscent in some ways of The Deer Hunter and countless other Vietnam movies where the would-be liberator becomes the entrapped and addicted victim. War is a terrible thing and nations should enter into it only after all other avenues have been exhausted. It seems that with WWII, Korea, Vietnam and now the Gulf and Afghanistan that successive generations of Americans are forced to live with the unseen but very real consequences of warfare. As fighting wars becomes increasingly 'virtualised', where will that take our children's generation? I guess Halo, Gears of War and Modern Warfare 2 have already given us a glimpse!

As hard as this film is to stomach, it is a must-see as we are all culpable for the atrocities each side inflicts on the other in the name of justice and freedom. How you choose to define justice and freedom depends on which side of the battle you are on!

I'll give this 8.5/10.

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