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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A rare thing, The Hurt Locker (dir Kathryn Bigelow, 2008) is not only an Academy Award winner it's a brilliant, unique film. Most winners are of a certain type. They're big, controversial movies with masses of marquee actors in them.

This film is different. Ralph Feinnes appears briefly but he's quickly despatched. The thing that makes this movie great is that each of the major characters - Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner), Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) - is played by an unknown, but on-screen they are all individuals.

There are no jarhead stereotypes here. There's no loud-mouthed staff-sergeant bullshit. There's no high-ranked political pontificating. And there's no evil rag-head to hate to make the US warriors look good. There's just three young men caught up in war who are trying to stay alive until tomorrow.

Granted, James is a little odd. He's more of an individual, more romantic, more intellectual, and more articulate than the others. He's got a hard, technical job - defusing bombs, mainly improvised explosive devices (IEDs). But he's not hardened. He's not a time-server, either. He takes a perverse delight in solving difficult problems.

The action is compelling, brutal, and fast-paced. There are stories nestled within stories. There are important messages delivered, but they're not shoved down your throat. A war movie of this calibre is a rare item - most of them are just plain crap to endure when all the good films have already been watched.

Highly recommended - don't miss it whatever else you do.

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