The Hurt Locker

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Fictitious countdown of the final six weeks in the twelve-month tour of an army bomb squad in Baghdad. The living and working conditions in a color-free wasteland appear perfectly credible, and the quasi-science-fictional details of the job — the spaceman protective suits, the remote-control bomb-sniffing robot, the tangle of colored wires, the hide-and-seek triggers — are highly enlightening. And the defusing of bombs — the constant prospect of their blowing up in our faces — carries a guaranteed tension, as witness such forerunners as Robert Aldrich’s Ten Seconds to Hell or Michael Powell’s and Emeric Pressburger’s The Small Back Room. The ambush in mid-desert, outside the squad’s normal sphere of operations, is if anything even tenser: more unpredictable, more open to possibilities. Kathryn Bigelow, one of the rare female action directors, dead-set on matching any man in muscle, favors here the combat-footage filmmaking style of jostles and jars to the camera, punchy zooms, whiplashing pans, and a chronic shaky hand, not necessarily restricted to scenes of combat. This is trendy at best, a tired cliché at worst. (The amplified heartbeat and the slo-mo explosion ought to be put to bed for a rest period of not less than a generation.) She takes a lot of time on the action scenes, or more broadly the tension scenes, and not much time in between, so that the three principals — Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, each of them looking the part — are thin on character, static in development, no more than generic as opposed to individual soldiers. With Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse. (2008) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated R | 2 hours, 10 minutes
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Just back to San Diego after a 10 yr hiatus to finish schooling on east coast. While checking the on-line movie listings for San Diego, I see that Duncan Shephard is still the pompous, psuedo-intellectual he's always been. Isn't it possible, Duncan, that the most popular movies are also the best ones made. Or do the best movies have to come from a foreign country by directors only you have heard of in your ivory tower. Jeez, some things never change, and I guess Duncand reviews are one of them. What degrees or schooling does Professor Shephard hold that allow him to see the real quality in films that the rest of us idiots don't. Vivaxron

March 3, 2010

"She takes a lot of time on the action scenes, or more broadly the tension scenes, and not much time in between, so that the three principals — Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, each of them looking the part — are thin on character, static in development, no more than generic as opposed to individual soldiers."

I felt that the almost relentless tension achieved by Bigelow effectively conveyed the sense of overload and exhaustion that is probably experienced by soldiers in such situations.

I'd also say that independence and individuality are at odds with soldiering. The three men in the film are struggling to work as a unit, and it's critical that they do so. It is in fact the very different character of maverick SSG William James (Jeremy Renner) and by-the-book Sgt Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) that causes a tremendous amount of friction.

Sometimes I wonder if Duncan actually views these films.

March 3, 2010

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