Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Hurt Locker

The Film: The Hurt Locker

The Actors: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie. Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly

The Dealio: Into Bravo Company, after the leader of one of the ordinance disposal units is...out of the picture, comes a whole 'nother kind of leader: Will James. SGT James has already defused 871 bombs/explosive devices, call 'em what you will. Now, he is part of a new unit. One problem: he prefers to work alone. His team sees him as 'the guy who will get us killed'; his superiors call him 'a bonafide cowboy'- and they mean this as a compliment. Everybody else is unsure what to think of him: his wife and infant son think he is coming home to them when his tour is finished (38 days at the start of the film). He thinks that marriage is just another something that is trying to kill him- and is not even sure he actually is still married.
Set in the midst of the war in Iraq, this is a film that makes you care about the players almost at once...then snatches them out of their usual comfort zone and throws them-and you- literally, into the face of a mysterious, unknown and unknowable enemy. As with Danger: UXB, (a fantastic, intricate and mesmerising take on the same subject, but involving an unexploded bomb squad in WWII, when the enemy was known and familiar, but the technology not), there is an enormous temptation to immediately identify with certain characters and feel the need to speak directly to the screen, to warn them not to turn their backs, not to cut this wire, or go into that house. You know the drill. The twist is, here, I just knew from the first 3 minutes of the movie, that it could only end one of two ways. Don't worry, this is not a spoiler, so no need for an alert. I would be truly surprised if anyone walking into the theatre would not quickly jump to the same conclusions.
The Grading Session: 4.83 pengies out of 5. Some debits due to the use of a Marine helo to transport the newbies to the desert (ya know, these are Army guys, and the Army actually does have its own helos). Additionally, my on the spot expert in such things states that alcohol is not so readily available in the US camps as the movie would lead you to believe. The acting was fabulous, although it doth seem a crime to throw away some of the strongest actors after just a scene or two. Sigh. Be it ever thus.

Lessons Learned: Some people were born to do one certain job in life. That is what 'lifers' are all about. They are never completely comfortable doing the same, ordinary things as the rest of us, every doggone day. Thank God for them, says I, as how else would we be able to get people to put themselves in harms' way more than once? And we do need them to do so. We depend upon that. For those who do this, I say 'thank you!' For those who don't, I say, 'thank God, you have an appreciation, a longing, for something beyond the work. For life in all its multiple shadings, varieties and ordinariness. For all its predictability. I would guess that life led the other way- while great for those of us who don't- would be a pretty isolating, misunderstood and lonely existence. Or...I could be wrong. Thoughts?

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