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Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Hurt Locker

I recently had the chance to take in The Hurt Locker, a gritty story about the Iraq war in 2004. Starring Jeremy Renner (along with a great ensemble of cameos including Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, Evangeline Lily and David Morse), many are calling it the most realistic depiction of the war, and subsequently the people's lives surrounding it, ever to be made. While this may or may not be true (shocker: I've never been to Iraq OR war...though I did see them in concert in '77 at the Forum...they played "Low Rider," it was awesome*), it still holds up as a fantastic film that is worth the price of a ticket to see.

Renner absolutely steals this film in his cock-and-bull performance as sergeant William James. And aside from the fact that he really looks like he could be Jason Bateman's little brother, it's a completely unique performance. Your feelings in the audience wax and wane with his, yet often times, when it comes to the battle scenes, you wonder just how crazy he really is. You tend to think he might be acting a little recklessly, easily commiserating with his subordinate officers as they worry for their lives with him at the helm. Mind you, our leading man wasn't going to die in this film. After he confesses to a Colonel that he's diffused over 873 bombs, it's clear that he's done a few tours by that point. So despite the action keeping you on the edge of your seat, you can remain quite confident through the entire film that nothing will happen to Bateman Jr. His confidence is founded.

And perhaps that's what makes this film so unique in the end: in this guerrilla war of discord and chaos, Renner stands atop the heap of rubble with no questions in his mind. In fact, it's only when he returns to the "real" world (an ironic name for it to a soldier) that Renner's character feels completely lost. Quite the opposite from the rest of the men in his company, as they would much rather be with their families (or making families for that matter) then diffusing 500 tons of C4.

Without saying too much more, this film comes highly recommended. It's a superb story with a clear balance of good and evil, right and wrong, order and chaos, everything. Many people say the world isn't just black and white, it's got a grey area too. This film redefines the lines reminding us that when it really matters, black and white is all you got. Though, as we creep closer to the anniversary of our nation's independence, rest assured there's plenty of red, white and blue too.

*editor's note: I was born in 1982 making that completely false. Though I did see Dazed and Confused 1000 times, and that song is featured in the movie.

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