Tuesday 1 September 2009

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is a new film about a guy whose job it is to wander around Iraq defusing bloody great big bombs. It is neither very good nor very bad. In fact it's the kind of film the words "six out of ten" were made for. Now I realise that's not a particularly in-depth review, so for those of you who crave intelligent, considered opinion, here are some further observations, the like of which you would only find in something like Sight And Sound or The Observer:

• From various reviews and poster quotes I had been led to believe this film would have my nerves jangling like Jimmy Saville's jewellery. As a result I was unbearably tense for the first ten minutes, but only because I had been told I should be. Then I realised I didn't need to be, so I stopped. The rest of the film left me about as tense as a snail convention.

• It's shot 'documentary-style', which means all the cameras have faulty zoom controls that can't settle for more than a femtosecond without crashing in or out.

• The lead character is played by Jeremy Renner, who looks like a 4:3 picture of Daniel Craig, stretched to fill a 16:9 screen.

See? Uncanny.

• Contrary to the film's title, there are no lockers to be seen anywhere within the movie. I have raised this with Trading Standards as I believe it to be a gross contravention of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

• The worst part of the film is that we are expected to believe that a man who is married to Kate from Lost would rather be risking his life every day in a sweaty hell-hole than staying indoors and making sexytime with his ladywife.

• The best part of the film is when a man wanders into a house waving a gun and says "I'm looking for the people responsible for Beckham". Not enough films feature scenes like this.

From scouring the interwebs, it seems I’m the only person not to believe that The Hurt Locker is an event of similar amazitude to the advent of unaided human flight or the invention of a brainwave-operated toaster. I suppose this makes The Incredible Suit either very special or very stupid. You decide.
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  1. The Hurt Locker as explained at the Q&A I attended with director and screenwriter, is a local expression meaning a place you don't want to go. The Royal Navy Submariners have a simmilar phrase used for example to describe the result of diving with the hatch open. It would "spoil your whole day."

    OK, a guy in a car with a prop fake bomb on a film set fiddling with wires two of which make the windscreen wipers work is not stressful. Come to that as a savvy camera operator you know that Health and Safety rules mean that all the actors are going to be tucking into location catering and be chums with each other a few minutes after you saw them as cannibals trying to eat each other or whatever drama was being presented in whatever film you saw.

    Cinema and Theatre require suspension of disbelief and empathy with the actors. You must be mighty hard hearted and analytical not to have joined the drama of the situation in The Hurt Locker.

    The cases are many and tragic of the lasting problems that pursue those who have witnessed or taken part in the grossness of war. Many Pleasantville Stepford Wives have been abandoned by hubbys with tortured souls.

  2. Tony, I can suspend my disbelief and empathise with characters (rather than actors) as much as the next man, but The Hurt Locker suffered from media hype in its over-exaggeration of how tense it would be.

    As I say, it wasn't a bad film by any standards. Perhaps my review will lower expectations to the point where people will enjoy it more! If so, all the better. Each to their own and all that.

  3. Neil, I saw the film pre-release, no hype, no expectation of anything. I agree that it is not the best war film ever. What it did do was to give you a pretty good idea of what the bomb disposal guys do. Life in the army is either mind numbing monotony or stark terror. The bomb disposers are five times more likely to be in the hurt locker than the average grunt. The screenwriter was embedded with such a unit in Baghdad in 2004 and said all the incidents in the film are based on real incidents.

  4. I'm really looking forward to seeing this film now. Until reading this review, I'd heard nothing but rave reviews about it. I don't have a natural inclination to watch war films, and when I do see them and like them, I tend to never watch them again, simply because they are appropriately disturbing and just too difficult to watch (Saving Private Ryan, for example). I will watch The Hurt Locker and report back.

    Re. the Jeremy Renner/Daniel Craig comparison - you have a unique brain, Neil.

  5. Spuf, I'm glad my review hasn't put you off. Let me know what you thought. As for my brain, you might say unique. Others would say tangentially skewed. Whatever that means.