Movie Review-The Hurt Locker

Saturday, May 1, 2010 10:32 AM By crosswaysnet , In

If yer lookin' for subtly, look on.

The movie starts with this quote from NYTimes correspondent Chris Hedges: "The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug." Wow! Did you get it? War is addictive! Not to waste time correcting any misconceptions, all other words fade to black other than "war is a drug." (linger... fade...)

Get it yet?

And guess what happens for the rest of the film? Think we get to watch what happens to one particular talented and addicted soldier? HEY! You're beginning to catch on!

The whole film is a yoyo version of Heart of Darkness. We start at the headwaters, journey slllllloooowly back to the light and discover that there's nothing there. For the OD specialist Sergeant James, his fate is sealed the moment he encounters Colonel Reed (David Morse as a Marlon Brando meets Tony Robbins perky wacko) and accepts his accolades. Sergeant James seems to have no qualms with the Colonel's crazed praise. Think maybe Sergeant James feels most at home in the frenetic buzz of every adrenaline inducing hyper moment? Hey, you're really beginning to get the hang of this analysis thing!!

To the director of photography: There are other places than British Columbia to underscore the depression that awaits Sergeant James when he's no longer downrange. And there is other lighting than flickering blue flourescent to draw the color out of everyone's faces, marriages, souls.

Sergeant James steps into the confessional with his morally mute toddler son and admits the addiction. Read "THERE'S NOTHING I LOVE MORE THAN WAR - YOUR MOTHER AND YOU INCLUDED." Get it? He's addicted. Gee I wonder if he's going to feed his addiction again, even at the expense of his family, his life and his eternity? Gee - I WONDER.

Do we REALLY need to watch our Westworld John Wayne sllllllooooowlly walking off into the exploding sunset to figure out he'll never leave this place?

The strongest performance is Ralph Fiennes as the headhunting contractor. I so wanted to mount up with him and ride out of this flick. But no: He spills his blood all over the remaining ammo. We've got to watch the descent of Specialist Owen Eldridge as he spitshines each bullet and pays it forward. Then we're compelled to join that uppity Sergeant Sanborn as he discovers that he really DOES want to be a father. REALLY? All those offputting discussions of the matter weren't enough to settle it? Oh, I forget - we don't 'get it' without a substantial push.

We DO get one glimpse into complexity when we face the 'ghost of Beckham' - the young dvd seller who - we're led to believe - becomes the victim of that most gruesome of atrocities in an atrocious war - the 'body bomb.' Sergeant James can't dispatch the ordnance-filled remains the 'normal' way and extends the courtesy of a more respectful disposal. As a result he's now blind to the possibility he was incorrect in his identification of the boy. Beckham and all others like him will now be invisible.

The movie's finest moment is spent glued to rifle sights pondering whether the long-range sniper battle is really over. It's practically David Lean-ish. The battle can't really be over, of course, until Eldridge gets his kill. But the scene none-the-less humanizes those few remaining long enough for me to actually care about them and wish them less than a quick dispatch by IED.


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