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Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Palph Fiennes, David Morse

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Mark Boal

Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd 

Original Score: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders

Running Time: 131 Mins.

The term on the edge of your seat is one term used all too often when describing a film, usually applied to horror or thriller’s it is a term that after The Hurt Locker has a whole new bar for others to try and reach,  in fact add nail biting to that criteria for The Hurt Locker really is the most intense cinema experience you will have all year, putting you right on the front line in terms of tension make no mistake you will be entertained, but damn your nerves with be tested.

Effectively following one bomb disposal team’s cycle (tour) of Iraq there is not so much an A to Z plot as a series of nerve shredding set pieces interspersed with character moments that delve between the psyhces of the young team and the differing perspectives on what they are actually doing where they are. Original team members Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Spc. Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) see their team leader die after a horrific error in judgement, meaning that in steps their new team leader in the form of S.Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner).

A close knit team until James arrival, the team soon discover he is very much a loose cannon and on the surface it seems he cares little for the lives of others or his own on his mission to get right into the thick of a situation to difuse a bomb, be it a suicide bomber, roadside bomb or car bomb each mission rachets up the tension to unbearable levels where you literally won’t want to watch the screen in horror at what will happen next. But watch you will and be glad for it, there is a great deal in The Hurt Locker to admire, not least the acting by the core trio, Renner has long stood on the sidelines and this should by rights be his breakout role .

The real star though, is behind the camera, that such a macho film is directed by a woman may seem shocking (or not?) but it makes perfect sense, this is not machoism to the point of parody it is realistic, bullish and no holds barred, for Renner’s character war is as the tagline states, a drug. Presented as such through Kathryn Bigelow’s kinetic direction she ramps up the pressure on the team and that follows through to the audience. With a roster of past film’s including Point Break and Near Dark it is no surprise that The Hurt Locker is a riverting experience, but the layer of realism that also comes into play through the use of close ups and the now common place shaky-cam style seen in Bourne adds to the authenticity making it somewhat more than a filmic experience.

Yes, The Hurt Locker is set in Iraq (but was filmed in Jordan) and can clearly be placed within the same wave of Iraq based films we have had in the last few years which included those of varying quality ranging from the downright weak, Lions For Lambs, to the fantasric In The Valley Of Elah. That The Hurt Locker manages to break free of this bracket and could easily be set in any war simply add’s credence to the quality of the acting and direction, we forget the conflict specific and focus on the tension and those involved in it, where ever  they may be and whatever war thay are fighting.

VERDICT

As suspenseful an experience as you are likely to achieve without being on the frontline, Bigelow squeezes the tension for all its worth and the cast oblige with great conviction, The Hurt Locker truly is edge of your seat stuff!

 grade-b

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