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The Hurt Locker (2008)

You'll know when you're in it

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 131 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

The Vietnam War has The Deer Hunter, World War Two has Saving Private Ryan, now the second Iraq war has its own seminal war film, painting a frank, and often harrowing, picture of US soldiers on tour.

The Hurt Locker follows three members of the US Army’s Bomb Disposal Unit in their last month on tour in Iraq. Through ultra confident Sgt James (Renner), cautious Sgt Sanborn (Mackie) and nervous greenhorn Spc Eldridge (Geraghty) we get a real look into the highs and lows of life in a hostile country where roadside explosives are an everyday occurrence and every civilian is a possible enemy. Kathryn Bigelow (in female war movie Director shocker) ratchets up the tension to eleven and creates some memorable set pieces as gung-ho bomb disposal expert Sgt. James marches up to any old bomb with no second thoughts about the consequences.

On the other hand, this war film delves into the conflict far deeper than just blowing things up and macho fighting. We learn about their motivations and see them emotionally and physically put through the ringer and then how they come out of the other side. The Hurt Locker is also refreshingly gimmick-free with a minimum of slow-mo running, crying children and glorified protracted deaths. This is candid and wholly believable.

The three leads put in great performances and create three diverse characters to illustrate the different aspects of war. These leads are supplemented brilliantly by short but worthwhile cameos by Guy Pierce, as the original team leader, and, Ralph Fiennes, playing a British mercenary. The Hurt Locker is even punctuated by dark humour throughout, like the well-meaning but useless Col. Cambridge (Camargo). It’s maybe a little overlong, as by the end it feels as though we’ve been put through every scenario in the Bomb Disposal Unit handbook, but each situation would be hard to discard because they all play a part in shaping the emotional state of the soldiers.

It's Got: Explosions, emotional drama, quality acting

It Needs: More Guy Pierce and Ralph Fiennes


A tense Iraq war film that fuses explosive action with emotional and thought-provoking drama to make a must-see movie.