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Monday, July 27, 2009

Cody's Film Review: The Hurt Locker

I did not go into this film with high hopes,because I have no interest in films about the war in Iraq. The subject of the Middle East is about as interesting to me as Hurricane Katrina. It's a tired subject and I get enough about it on television. The modern day War Film is in a recession now because there hasn't been a war of interest since Vietnam. Bad asses like Rambo, Riggs, and Kurtz can't exist in a war that consist of suicide bombers and playing watchdog in a occupied territory. Three Kings(1999),Standard Operating Procedure(2008), and Generation Kill(2008) are the films about Iraq that I've enjoyed the most. Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker isn't as good as these films,but it does come close. The story of bomb defusing during a war is a subject I have never seen on screen, and Bigelow makes it interesting and tense. The acting is top notch all around, and Jeremy Renner is outstanding as the lead. Renner and Anthony Mackie have a great repoir and play off each other beautifully. The Hurt Locker has some of the best cameo's that I have seen in a long time. Guy Pierce is so great at the beginning that I wanted more of him, and it just adds to Renner's performance that you don't miss him after awhile. David Morse is extremely intense as Colonel Reed. He straight out frightens you and his scene with Renner is one of the most uncomfortable moments I have seen in a long time.It was great to see the re-pairing of Bigelow and Lenny Nero AKA Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes plays a bounty hunter and is so good I think Bigelow could make a prequel on his character alone,and probably make a better film. The main problem I had with The Hurt Locker was the length.The movie runs about 15-20 minutes too long.I am not sure where to cut,because all the scenes were necessary or too enjoyable to cut. Towards the end you just start to get fatigued and start looking at your watch. All the acting was superb except for the third person of their team Brian Geraghty. I thought he was the weakest link and he had too much screen time without much to contribute. I also (again) had a problem with using hand held camera with the action. Shaky cam is a TV trick for shows that have no budget, and I'm sick of everything trying to look like the Bourne films. It's a fad I wish they would start ending now. I want to see the action and along with crappy CGI films of the last few years is going to look like rear projection of the 40's and 50's. It's just a sign of laziness and I hoped Bigelow would stick with her old school action ways. Overall it's a good film with great acting, but I am not sure how much re-watching value it has. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Solid review Coco. Agreed on Geraghty being kind of sub-par and it needing about 20 minutes cut out. I think everytime the movie starts to feel like an action narrative (mostly towards the end) then the movie starts to falter, since it established itself initially as an episodic day-in day-out string of events.

    I think you’re being a little dogmatic about “shaky cam” though, and are basically penalizing this movie for Paul Greengrass’s crimes. This wasn’t shot with an overload of unmotivated spastic jerkiness, it was just shot hand-held. There’s a difference.

    Certain films need tripods and certain ones don’t. Battle of Algiers would look retarded with a tripod, and this movie sure as hell wouldn’t have the in-the-moment urgency is does if it was shot with overly premeditated and calculated compositions. It might have had intensity, but it wouldn’t be the same kind of intensity. In fact I’d argue that the only way this movie would have worked was to be hand-held—owing to the very fact that it’s supposed to feel like an episodic day-in day-out string of events, you can’t have a style that feels preconceived, or else it won’t feel like we’re watching it as it’s happening.

    Hand-held isn’t fundamentally lazy—it’s a technique and can be sometimes the best way to create suspense or just a quiet menace. From Children of Men to Cassavetes, from the Dardenne Brothers to Private Ryan. Even comedies can get tension from being hand-held—imagine The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development without it.

    Yeah it’s true that the last 2 Bourne movies fucking suck because they push hand-held to unnecessary extremes, where the action becomes incoherent, and it’s true that certain DPs these days don’t know how to do hand-held gracefully, and just rely on arbitrary jerks to the right and zoom-outs, but Bigelow’s movie doesn’t deserve that kind of flack. Same with CGI—just because a lot of directors don’t know how to use it well doesn’t mean it fundamentally blows. Verhoeven uses a combination of CG and live-action just fine in Starship Troopers, that was 10 years ago when CG was just coming together and I don’t think that’s going to age badly at all.

    But saying all “shaky cam” sucks is like saying Dutch angles suck. I mean it’s not the Star wipe for chrissakes.