Tense. Intense. Riveting. Hot as the Iraqi desert sun. Name the adjective and it fits The Hurt Locker, a not-to-be-missed action film from director Kathryn Bigelow whose Point Break is one of the all-time best cops and robbers thrillers.
The Hurt Locker follows three soldiers whose job is disarming bombs. And in Iraq, as you know, there are lots of them. They're planted in cars, carts, on the ground, in buildings, underground and even on people. Normal procedure is to use a robot for most diffusing tasks. Jeremy Renner's Sgt. William James is the proverbial loose cannon. On a regular basis he plays cowboy and risks his life and the life of his frustrated colleagues by doing his own thing.
Forget the robot. Man to bomb confrontation is his preference.
Anthony Macie's JT Sanborn and Brian Geraghty's Owen Eldridge just want to stay alive. They like their partner and do their duty but cannot comprehend how little he cares for their wellbeing.
Outside of a scene or two Bigelow and first time screenwriter Mark Boal-who developed the story for the excellent In the Valley of Elah-leave out the politics and take their movie straight ahead.
Bigelow shot this during the real-life Iraqi surge of a few years ago and uses a restless, hand-held camera to twist this way and that and define the intensity of this quiet form of combat. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Every bomb encountered becomes a nail biter.
So is her movie.
The Hurt Locker
Rated R for violence, language. It opens Friday, July 31 at Regal's Columbia Mall 8.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars
5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself