Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Hurt Locker (2008)

In case you haven't heard, Iraq is a dump.

Each an every year a single movie jumps from the ranks of all the other films that year and becomes the one that is forever remembered regardless of it's quality. Whichever film wins the Academy Award for best picture is a movie that will never be forgotten, even if it's terrible. For the year 2009, despite it being dubbed, in my mind at least, the year of Avatar, the film that secured it's place on the illustrious list of Best Picture winners was The Hurt Locker. The film had been a front runner since it's release, but I put it off because I, personally, thought it looked terrible. With it's win, the movie found it's way on my list of movies to see and, while it's not terrible, it's nowhere near my favorite film of 2009.

To be the best bomb guy in Iraq, means you have the be the biggest douche-hat. When the leader of their company unfortunately exploded, the men of Bravo Company must deal with their new sergeant and his reckless behavior. A bunch of no name actors play the blatant war film stereotypes while the more well known actors, Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pierce and the chick who plays Kate in Lost, get blown up or drift into the background. The film is directed by James Cameron's ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow and made history for a lot of reasons. The film won six Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Picture, making it the first time a women had won either award. While I won't say the movie didn't deserve some of the acclaim it received, it wasn't exactly the groundbreaking film that I was hoping for.

In general, The Hurt Locker is a fine movie. The cinematography is pretty solid, especially the high-speed action, and the film does a marvelous job of creating tension. That said, there are still a lot of problems. One of the biggest was the camera work. Yes, I just praised the cinematography, but I cannot stand the use of a shaky camera. In action sequences it doesn't bother me, but outside of combat I would prefer that you stick the camera on a freaking tripod. Nothing ruins a really interesting shot, like the one shower one, more than a wobbly camera reminding me that this is a movie. Aside from that, I found the characters a little one dimensional. There were moments where their personalities shined, but I felt like I had seen the movie before. We have the responsible, by the numbers guy, the nervous guy who is filled with regret and the reckless new guy who seems on the verge of loosing it all the time. The worst part of all is that the movie ends up being about the least interesting of the three characters anyway. Whatever message the film wants to get across is muddled by a lack of narrative focus. What you end up with is a generally pretty looking movie with some great moments that is, ultimately, forgettable.

When a movie wins Best Picture, it is, unfortunately, compared to all the movies it beat until the end of time. Then, it is again compared to every other film that has won the award. As for 2009, The Hurt Locker is not my Best Picture, it might not have even made my top five, but it remains a better than expected film. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't suck and I am happy to report that The Hurt Locker is not Crash. You're going to need to watch the movie at some point and you don't need to dread it.


No comments: