Thursday, 26 June 2014

Brief Review of "The Hurt Locker" (2008)

The Hurt Locker is a film about Sergeant William James, a daring and reckless explosives disposal expert. The film opens with a quote from the book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” which sums up the central theme explored by director Kathryn Bigelow: “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug”.

James is addicted to the thrill of war. This is revealed through his keen desire to put himself in the middle of dangerous situations, and the fact that at the end of the film, when his service is over, he decides to leave his family and return to Iraq. This interesting character is made totally believable by a steady, focused performance by Jeremy Renner. When the drama escalates in the second half of the film, James deals with the situations both expertly but also with just enough humanity for the viewer to empathise with the character.

Kathryn Bigelow’s filmmaking style is intense to say the least. Scenes build tension with fast cutting between close and wide angles. Unlike typical actions films, however, this cutting is performed with a proficiency that allows the scene to be clear and understandable for the viewer. The film never dissolves into an indiscernible whirlwind of incomprehensible quick cuts, as would be easy to do.

The Hurt Locker is one of the most interesting and accurate depictions of modern warfare on film. It is relevant to our time and morally interesting - and not only for soldiers but for all people and their everyday lives. The film shows that it is possible for one to become addicted to a dangerous or destructive activity without realising. It raises the question for the United States: will they be able to leave the war when they have the chance, or will they keep looking for conflict, because that is what they are used to?

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