2009 • The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker, 2009“What the heck is a hurt locker? Sounds interesting!” That was my thought when this movie was first released in 2009. Friends who had seen it raved about it and said it was a shoe-in for Best Picture. I eventually saw it, along with seven of the other Best Picture nominees, and declared it my least favorite of the bunch, well behind Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

But since we didn’t know at the time that The Hurt Locker would go on to win Best Picture, we didn’t review it, and I needed to go back and re-watch it for the blog. Last week, Lauren and I did just that, and I gave the movie another chance to show why it was the best of the year.

The Hurt Locker stars Jeremy Renner as Sgt. William James, who has arrived in Iraq to defuse bombs for the US Army. James immediately gets on everyone’s nerves with his reckless attitude, but nevertheless defuses bombs with ease as if he is in no danger whatsoever. Most of the movie is very tense edge-of-your-seat scenes with lots of sitting and waiting, whether it’s a shootout with Iraqis over a long span of desert, or meticulously cutting wires on a live bomb. When James’ tour of duty is complete and he returns home to his wife and son, he realizes he can’t stand his mundane life and agrees to a new 365-day mission in Iraq, once again putting his life on the line.

The movie was written by freelance war writer Mark Boal, who spent time in Iraq documenting events of the war and then fictionalized them for the movie, which Kathryn Bigelow directed. The goal of the movie was to make the film as realistic as absolutely possible, putting the audience in the Humvee with the soldiers. It received universal critical acclaim, but actual veterans of the Iraq war widely found certain aspects to be portrayed inaccurately.

In hindsight The Hurt Locker really was pretty good. There haven’t been many movies I can remember that have been able to do twenty minute scenes with almost nothing happening and still have me in nervous anticipation. I’m referring to my favorite scene, where James and his men encounter the Iraqi prisoners in the desert and go on the long-range shootout. It reminds me a little of No Country for Old Men and also a little of The Deer Hunter. 

Even though I liked it much more the second time around, I thought the best movie of 2009 was Inglourious Basterds by a very wide margin. And I’m still not sure what “hurt locker” means.

1 Comment

  1. […] Pic Project Down to One Over at my Best Picture blog, you can read my review of 2009′s The Hurt Locker. That leaves us with just 1933′s Cavalcade, a title that is available only on VHS, which I […]


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