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Julio Martinez

Secondary School for Journalism, Junior

REVIEW | The Hurt Locker (2008) directed by Kathryn Bigelow

In the thriller/drama The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, there were many scenes based upon the suspense and violence that US soldiers went through during war. The main character, Sergeant First Class William James, played by Jeremy Renner, helped display the mentality that they had and how war can change a person’s whole view of the world. The film also shows how their main priorities and things they love can change.

The movie features an amazing use of sound to display the constant feeling of being on the brink, and of always being afraid of unexpected tragedy and violence that can happen in the daily life of a soldier. It’s like being in their body or mind. For example, in the opening scene of the film, the bomb squad is trying to disable the bomb. The twist is that the person holding the detonator is actually in plain sight. By the climax, the soldier is running away and the bomb goes off. The amazing part is that you see the visuals of the bomb exploding but don’t hear it at all. It’s like silent death. This made the movie interesting and eye-catching without saying a word. The director forced the audience to pay attention to the visual impact of putting your life in danger rather than the sound part.

The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner

Another technique is the amazing camera placement used throughout the film to keep the audience entertained. For example, in one scene the US soldiers are pinned down by terrorists. Two groups of soldiers have an intense sniper rifle battle. You get an amazing close up of Sergeant Sanborn, played by Anthony Mackie, aiming with the rifle. You get every drop of sweat and see how tired and frustrated he is trying to pinpoint his shot. This impacts the daily life of a soldier, and shows the audience the determination and focus these soldiers have. Another example of amazing camera placement is in the scene where they are trying to disable a bomb. It turns out there are multiple bombs connected to one another. You get to see an amazing bird’s eye view of Jeremy Renner in the middle and about six bombs in a circle around him. This shows the danger you put your life in when you become a soldier and how you can constantly be put in life-or-death situations.

Another way in which the director uses elements of film to tell the story is the way she uses editing. The film transitions from life-threatening scenes to the soldiers just hanging out on the army base. For example in one scene, the troops are disabling a bomb and the next they're in each other’s room drinking and punching each other in the stomach. This shows that even though war is rough you still can have fun and create bonds through different situations.

Overall, the movie was interesting and kept my attention the entire time. It showed me that violence in the army is serious, and that we should have more respect for men and women who join the army and put their lives on the line. The director used all the different movie elements to tell the story she was trying to portray. She used sound, camera placement, and mis-en-scene perfectly.