Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Plan: Three down...four more to go

"Previously on Speaking In CAPS..."

I have decided to see these seven films before the Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday night, March 7 -

An Education [I saw this one on 2/21- click the link for my review]

☐ Avatar

☐ The Blind Side

Crazy Heart [I saw this one on 2/20- click the link for my review]

☐ District 9

☐ The Hurt Locker

☐ The Last Station

Last Friday night, I saw...

The Hurt Locker - (Jim Styro's mini-review)

There are certain types of movies that I don't necessarily look forward to seeing: anything with scenes of extreme violence or gore, horror films, and (most) modern gangster or war films. I admit it - I'm squeamish. And I shy away from films where you can tell something bad is going to happen sooner or later (oftentimes the badness arrives early and often) and the only remaining questions are: when will it occur and how bad will it be?

But a Best Picture nomination still carries some weight with me (although not as much weight now that there are ten films nominated rather than five*), so I steeled myself in preparation for viewing The Hurt Locker, knowing that there would moments in the film that would be difficult for me to watch - but hoping that the film would be worth the trouble. As Don Henley once asked, "Are you with me so far?"

The Hurt Locker follows a three-man bomb disposal squad through the last month and a half of a year-long tour-of-duty in Iraq. Staff Sgt. James, the team leader, is a man who seems to know no fear. He works instinctively, with little regard for protocol - and loves his work in a way that even he does not understand. Sgt. Sanborn is a soldier of nearly equal experience - but he rankles at the unnecessary risks which his team leader seems to thrive upon. Specialist Eldridge is the youngest and most impressionable of the trio. Although he has known and worked with Sanborn longer, he is drawn to James' bravado and seeming invincibility. As their remaining days in Iraq dwindle down, the sense of tension mounts. How long will their luck hold out in the face of such carnage?

Director Kathryn Bigelow has crafted a film was doesn't seem crafted at all. Rather, it makes the viewer a participant and creates the sense of being present in the action, with the sense of danger and foreboding that are an everyday part of the team's work. While the movie certainly has a point of view, it does not have an overt agenda. It does not seem to judge the soldiers, the Iraqis, or even the conflict itself. The only objective is survival - in an environment that seems to make that objective an impossibility.

Although the performances in The Hurt Locker are uniformly excellent, the three leads (Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty) must carry the picture - and their work together makes us believe that these very different young men comprise a team so tight-knit that we civilians can scarcely comprehend the nature of their brotherhood. The film portrays a type of warfare unique to our present day, with three men going into battle seemingly (and, in some cases, quite literally) alone. The isolation of The Hurt Locker's action stands in stark contrast to what we would expect in a World War 2 or Vietnam era film, where these exploits would feature groups of 6, 10 or a dozen men. Here, the indelible image is of one soldier walking into certain danger with only a couple of other men to watch his back.

Although it seems ludicrous to me to call The Hurt Locker an "enjoyable" film - it is a memorable movie and one well worth seeing. I won't be surprised to look back and see that this film is viewed as the iconic portrayal of the Iraq war(s) [as some might say of Apocalypse Now and Vietnam, or Saving Private Ryan and World War 2]. It's strong stuff - so be prepared.

Take care.

* It just seems like a blatant move to get more people into the theaters. I mean, were there really twice as many amazingly excellent movies made this year than last year?

1 comment:

Middle Aged Woman said...

gonna see one tonight? I'd be up for Avatar.