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The Hurt Locker

You don't have to be a hero to do this job. But it helps. 

Year: 2009 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow 
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty  
An image from The Hurt Locker

Not long ago people were questioning whether it was too soon to make movies about Iraq. Now, after the lack of excitement surrounding In the Valley of Elah, Stop Loss, and Redacted, it seems more appropriate to ask whether we need yet another one. However, there is always need for an intelligent, well-executed film and The Hurt Locker is certainly that, with director Katherine Bigelow pumping urgency and apprehension into every scene.

Instead of focusing on the politics of the conflict, this film explores the addictive attraction of warfare. It follows a three-man bomb disposal unit whose task it is to dismantle bombs efficiently while trying to avoid being blown up. While the film features some unexpected cameos from Guy Pierce and Ralph Fiennes, it focuses more closely on a couple of relatively unknown actors, whose performances here indicate that they won’t be unknown for much longer.

Anthony Mackie plays Sanborn, a contentious rule-abiding soldier who feels that the safety of the unit is being compromised by new sergeant Will James (Renner), who derives a perverse sense of enjoyment from the life-threatening danger that comes with their line of work. At one point a superior asks James the best way to go about his job. His answer, "the way you don’t die, sir", is contradicted by his reckless behaviour throughout the film, as he ignores the radio instructions of his teammates and even takes off his body armour while dismantling a cluster of bombs.

The film is punctuated with a countdown of the last thirty-nine days of the soldiers’ tour of duty but as James becomes increasingly focused on getting his adrenaline-fuelled high it seems to become more of an ominous indication that soon one of their missions will go horribly wrong.

Shoshana Eilon

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Spring Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Spring Term (35mm)