Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Cinematographer: Barry Ackroyd
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Guy Pearce, Brian Geraghty
Studio/Run Time: Summit Entertainment, 131 mins.
Point Break director makes mostly convincing war film
Kathryn Bigelow’s jerky, zoomy, dusty new film features 10 nail-biting
displays of limb-risking bravery by an Army bomb squad, each one
followed by two, maybe three minutes of downtime—tops. It’s a joyride
across the desert, with the top down and a rattlesnake in the glove
And yet The Hurt Locker hones in on the fatalistic psychology of the Iraqi war zone more convincingly than any other recent film about soldiers on the battlefield. These men live, barely, on a cocktail of adrenaline and testosterone, surviving in a world that’s both futuristic and retro—Mars one day and Monument Valley the next. They wear massive protective suits that bring to mind Iron Man, but they defuse homemade bombs assembled from salvaged wire and fistfuls of nails.
A funny thing happens somewhere in the middle of Bigelow’s variations on the theme: The threat of being blown to bits starts to feel routine, almost dull. Maybe that’s how a soldier feels after the numbness sets in, but it clashes with the rock ’n’ roll soundtrack that accents the hero’s final strut for the camera—and I can’t believe the director of Point Break wants us to take that moment ironically.