The Hurt Locker

Still from "The Hurt Locker'

Still from "The Hurt Locker'

IFC calls her “the most bad-ass chick in the action movie boys club” and Kathryn Bigelow\’s latest film “The Hurt Locker” proves the point. The film follows three members of the elite U.S. Army bomb-disposal squad in Baghdad, finely played by relative unknowns, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, as they try to make it through the last few weeks of their tours in one piece, literally.

Although taut, suspenseful and explosive, the real impact of the film comes from the interplay between the three characters. In her interview on Charlie Rose Bigelow expresses her desire to work with “hungry” actors, ones that don’t come with any preconceived ideas for the audience that they “can’t die until the end”. Personally, I think this casting philosophy is critical to great independent film making. With the exception of a few truly gifted actors, like Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Daniel Day Lewis who immerse themselves so deeply into their characters that celebrity fades from the screen, most “A” list actors are a distraction. I’m too aware of the persona, the tabloid presence and the blockbuster bankability that got the film greenlit in the first place and therefore to a certain extent disengaged from the story.

Bigelow also garners critical praise for her handling of the war in Iraq, or rather, the way she doesn’t handle it. There’s no ham-handed politicizing or moral high ground here, it’s a story that allows the audience to learn about the war in a certain context, from a compelling, boots-on-the-ground point of view. That’s what makes Hurt Locker a war movie and not a movie about the war in Iraq, the majority of which have completely bombed, pun intended.

Bigelow’s aesthetic sense and curiosity frame the story in such a way that the action never overpowers the story and thats what I feel women bring to the table in the action genre. I get so sick of the term “chick flick” and men who seem to think that any film written or directed by a woman or containing actresses in roles other than “girfriend” or “hottie” should be tagged that way and avoided at all costs. Hurt Locker doesn’t pull any punches. The violence is real, visceral and unapologetic but the characters are fully realized and deeply explored. Character scenes don’t get cut to allow for one more second-unit explosion extravaganza to appease an undiscerning, under thirty male audience. That’s what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is for.

Check out \”The Hurt Locker\”


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