Saturday, June 25, 2011

2009: The Hurt Locker

When the leader of an elite bomb-disarming squad in Iraq is killed in an explosion, he is replaced by Will James, whose new subordinates soon discover that he acts as though he is addicted to putting himself in life-threatening situations.  While Sanborn and Eldridge just want to get the job done and get out as quickly as possible, James takes his time, savoring the adrenaline rush.  War is a drug.

Although this film may seem similar to a lot of other Best Picture Winners (i.e., it's a depressing war movie), it's actually very different.  For one thing, as of when I'm writing this, it's the only Best Picture Winner to have been directed by a woman (Kathryn Bigelow).  It also has a very documentary-ish feel to it, as if someone just came in with a hand-held camera and started filming the bomb squad.  While the shakiness is fairly dizzying and headache-inducing, it definitely contributes to the sense of realism, as well as the portrayal of the chaotic nature of war.  Unlike many war films, which try to show the insignificance of individuals on the battlefield, this film shows the immense importance of three individuals, who quite possibly have the most dangerous job in the world.  This ultimately makes the film a character study of different types of people trying to stay alive against all odds, rather than a series of explosions and violent deaths.  This movie is intense not just because of special effects, but also because we are genuinely concerned that James's recklessness will get them all killed.

That said, I don't think I'll be watching this movie again any time soon because, while I thought it was very well done and intriguing, it was way too intense for me.  Unlike James, I do not thrive on adrenaline rushes, and would much rather be able to relax a little during movies.  In this film, you never know when an unexpected explosion or sniper is going to come out of nowhere, so even the scenes when they're not going on a mission are filled with tension and suspense.  This gives a very good idea of what war is really like, which I'm sure was the goal, but it doesn't make it something that can be watched over and over again.

And last (for now, anyway) but certainly not least will be: The King's Speech

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