Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In which The Hurt Locker is reviewed.

I don't think I have to tell you The Hurt Locker is a very good film, everyone else already has.
Is it a great film? Maybe.
Do I think it deserved Best Picture?
Short answer: No.

Long answer:
The Hurt Locker tells a very interesting story centered around William James (Jeremy Renner), whose job it is to defuse bombs as the head of an EOD squad. My main problem is not with the story, it's with the protagonist. Audiences love to identify with the main character, it's a simple fact. Audiences will root for a character even if he's a thief or serial killer as long as they're likable (See Ocean's 11, Dexter). James, on the other hand, is pretty much an arrogant asshole from the beginning.

The opening sequence to The Hurt Locker is great. In fact, it's the best part of the movie. This is another problem. The bomb diffusing scenes are great, they're tense, gritty, etc. Everything in between is just... awkward. These filler scenes and long pauses don't actually add to the tension, but instead pull us away from the movie. There's also a very surreal part of the movie where James sneaks off on his own, it almost felt like a scene thrown in from another movie.

Finally my last main gripe is a pretty big one: There's no climax. Like I said, the best part of the movie is the opening, and the first half of the movie has 2 or 3 other great parts. The rest of the movie doesn't show us anything new though. It's almost as if the story was built in reverse, instead of building up to a climax, the film starts off at a high point and slowly works its way down.

I wanna repeat that I do like this movie, I'm focusing on its flaws because everything that's good about it has already been said. Roger Ebert praised the film in his review. I'm not a huge fan of number based ratings, but I'll try out a 10 point scale (10 being a perfect film).
SCORE: 8.0/10

(Let me know what you thought of the movie, and of my review in the comments section, thanks.)


  1. Then... what deserved Best Picture?
    Don't say Avatar. Our friendship might end.

  2. Also, you posted this at 11:11. Just wanted to point that out.

  3. I can't read this until I see the movie...seriously. Just in case there are spoilers etc

  4. I'm planning on reviewing Inglourious Basterds soon, which was my pick for Best Picture. I would also give D9 an edge over The Hurt Locker.

  5. It's kind of hard for me to weigh in on this because I would've been pleased to see Basterds as Best Picture as well, though I was fine with the actual pick. D9, not so much, though I would've liked to see more recognition of it, particularly for Sharlto Copley.

    First let me get the stuff that I agreed with out of the way. One, Hurt Locker isn't a perfect film. Two, I have to agree with the comment about the part where James sneaks off by himself. Almost everyone raised that as an issue, though mostly as an attack on the movie's realism; I'm not sure about that, but I do agree with you that it seemed forced.

    However, the rest of the things you cited didn't bother me. The "awkward" pauses you cited didn't pull me away from the movie, and I still left the theatre drained at the end. Some of them might have been better used, but I think Bigelow took good advantage of most.

    Lastly, as concerns the climax, or lack thereof, I actually thought that was sort of the point. The movie follows the psychological environment in which Sgt. James operates; for me the reason those "awkward" pauses existed, and the reason the movie wound down, was that it followed him becoming inured to the dangers around him and his need to seek bigger and bigger "fixes." I remember thinking even the soundtrack went along with this.

    I don't disagree that much with your rating; at most I'd rate it like one full point higher (if linear) or somewhat higher (if exponential because I'm not figuring that out), and I'm probably more satisfied with its pick as Best Picture than you are, but you're still spot on with some of the stuff you're saying. Good review and I hope to see more.