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Lucas Fenton

NYC iSchool, Sophomore

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

You probably have heard of drug addiction or alcohol addiction, but have you ever heard of someone being addicted to deactivating bombs? In The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow perfectly shows the intense reality of being a soldier in Iraq. You actually care about the characters in this film because you learn much about their personal lives. The Hurt Locker skillfully conveys for the audience the mentality of someone who is an adrenaline junky.

The Hurt Locker is about a group of soldiers who have to face everyday war problems in Iraq. One of them happens to love deactivating bombs. The way the camera moves around during the film puts you in the shoes of the soldiers. In the first scene, a soldier gets blown up and you see the reactions from the other soldiers. The camera swiftly moves to show what is going on in the film, like it is happening in real time. It makes the viewers feel as if they are with the soldiers. The camera is placed on a drone to give an unfiltered view of the action. The drone does not pull back when there is a big explosion. It keeps the viewer in the moment by showing how intense the situation in Iraq is.

The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner

In the first scene, a soldier is killed by a bomb. Right before the incident, two other soldiers were jokingly talking. They go from giddy laughter to witnessing one of their own getting killed. The soldiers have to just move on; they cannot mourn the death too long; they must get right back to work. The grit and grime of war truly shine through in this film. From this first scene, the viewer cares about the soldiers. The viewer knows what the soldiers go through and are caught up for the rest on the film. It is key that the viewer learns about the soldiers as people with families, not just guys who shoot guns.

There are many shots in this film that show what is less known about Iraq. The camera cuts to reveal the streets of Iraq, filled with weapons and violence. At one point, a cat runs by the camera, demonstrating that Iraq looks like any other city, but it is the magnitude of war that overshadows the small positive things that go on. It also shows that life goes on after a death; a man was killed, but a solitary cat still scurries around the dirt. Everybody looks at the soldiers like they are aliens as they stroll through the village. When the soldiers get suspicious, the camera cuts to what they are looking at, and then back; these back and forth shots create tension and suspense.

The main character, Sergeant James (Jeremy Renner), befriends a little kid who sells DVDs at a stand. Quickly, the viewers feel empathy for this boy. Sergeant James teaches him valuable lessons that the boy probably does not get in his school. During a raid, James finds the boy’s dead body with a bomb inside of him. He has to deactivate the bomb. Afterwards, James does not engage with any of the children, because he does not want the horrid cycle to occur again. This shows all the pain and suffering of war. But, James seems to be able to filter out all the negative parts of being in Iraq. He continues to love the adrenaline he gets from deactivating bombs, and stays there.

The Hurt Locker is a great movie. It explores the lives of soldiers and their families in an accurate way. It sticks with you because of its graphic scenes and heartbreaking ending. James chooses deactivating bombs in Iraq, over spending time with his son. This film should be shown at war museums because it is as close to the reality of war as a film like this is going to get.