There are enough films out there made by the West over the years on the current theatre of war in the Middle East, either indirect political thrillers like Syriana or Lions for Lambs, or action based ones such as The Kingdom, or Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, which is a superb, microscopic examination of the state of confusion, fear and desperation for survival seen from the eyes of a small, three man detachment from the Explosive Ordinance Unit, who basically risk their lives on a daily operational basis to disarm bombs and improvised explosives so as to save countless more of civilians and fellow soldiers alike.
The presentation style adopted, shaky cam cinematography aside for that documentary feel of the field, is a narrative joy to behold, where each scene stems from its respective incident, and there's plenty of patience devoted to the development of each scene proper without the feeling of being dragged out longer than its welcome. I think I can count the number of major sequences here with my fingers, where nothing came across as rushed, and provided ample opportunity for you to bond with the characters, ponder over their motivation and actions.
For action junkies, there's plenty here that will leave you literally begging for more, ranging from edge-of-your-seat type race against time in defusing devices, made all the more exciting when you have a wild man at the helm of the operations, to sniper action, close quarter combat, and the likes. You'll also applaud the authentic feel for the film in terms of its section movement techniques, and its divide between the pencil pushers versus real men on the ground with tremendous field knowledge. Watch out too for notable cameos by the likes of David Morse, Guy Pearce and even Ralph Fiennes!
Before you brand this film as pro-war and a one-sided view, this film actually examines how war has an effect on the soldiers participating in it. Granted that it doesn't provide a balanced viewpoint from both sides, because it is not this film. Rather, we see how some are adrenaline junkies out for action and adventure, with little regard for the tremendous risks that surround, or those who need constant counselling in order to deal with the confusion and the pain, or about those who are just counting the days to get out of the hell hole, by following orders to the book.
The film centers around its star character Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner in a fine outing here), who joins Bravo company and heads his two man team of Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), who are left rudderless after an incident gone wrong. Naturally it takes time for everyone to warm up together as a team, made all the more difficult by William's guts and unorthodox methods out in the field. But when they do gel together, it's an out of this world feeling that they could take on all insurgents, and the world even, as they buddy up and prove that they could hold their own, as good or better than private contractors and mercenaries in the war zone for profits and glory.
The opening quote had highlighted that war could be an addiction to some, and this is something to ponder over, since it is probably telling that some may feel more alive when they are constantly on the brink of experiencing death. William is one such man, who's actually the best what what he does, and his record of more than 800 bombs defused would have been a telling indication that he has served more than his fair share of the tour of duty. He's a wild man alright, preferring to live life on the edge.
I can't say I've seen a lot of war movies or am a war movie junkie, but The Hurt Locker definitely ranks up there amongst the best I've seen thus far, and it is definitely a highly recommended adrenaline pumper!