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'The Hurt Locker' - overhyped and dangerous (Movie Review - Rating: ***)
Film: 'The Hurt Locker'; Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty; Director: Kathryn Bigelow; Rating: ***
Let's begin with the obvious. 'The Hurt Locker' (THL) is a decent, racy thriller with a steady, engrossing pace and camera work reminiscent of the 'Bourne' series. The film's fault, however, is that it was handpicked and overhyped.
At the face of it, 'The Hurt Locker' is a series of vignettes in the life of a bomb disposal unit in Iraq. After the death of the first team leader, James (Jeremy Renner) joins Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Eldridge (Brian Geraghty).
James' job is one of caution. But his carelessness, his attempts to defuse bombs at the risk of his team members, makes Sanborn and Eldridge hate him. However, James' calmness as they are stranded in the middle of a desert brings them together as a unit.
There isn't much happening in terms of a story, but the film keeps the viewers engaged with well executed and tense shots, witty dialogues and good camera work that flow with the action.
Sadly, unlike the mindless films made in Hollywood, this one does have a mind and an ideology - and a very dangerous and narrow-minded one. In keeping clear of politics, and tacitly justifying war, it gives a dangerous message.
That war is a necessary drug. Yes, war is a drug (the film's tagline). But war is also politics. Thus a war film cannot be apolitical. It cannot simply be an action thriller.
'The Hurt Locker' shows the dangerous attempts of 'good' American soldiers to diffuse bombs. Yet never once does it attempt to tell us how the bombs got there in the first place. That is the films main drawback, of cutting out politics and keeping characters black and white. All Americans are good. All Iraqis are bad.
In essence the film represents American cowboy adventurism with the rest of the world. James is a symbol of Uncle Sam. He is strong, experienced but reckless, and doesn't care about others opinions.
After Sanborn punches him, James merely lifts his cigarette and continues smoking. The punch on his face is the punch of world criticism on America's war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Peace is not James cup of tea. Peace is not America's drug. America needs war. James needs war. In short James is an analogy for America, both of them don't like peace and love.
It's a strange that the first ever best director Oscar to a woman had to be for a war film. War's greatest and most gruesome casualties are always on women.
If you want a more fuller understanding of the war, watch 'Green Zone' or rent Brian De Palma's neglected 2007 masterpiece 'Redacted'.
'What's the best way to disarm one of these things,' a colonel asks James. 'The way you don't die, sir,' comes the reply. That is also the best way to wage war: the way no one dies. The way of peace. Hope that is the message you come out with after you have seen this over-hyped film.
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