Monday, January 11, 2010

The Hurt Locker (2009)

Alyssa has a post up about District 9, which I haven't seen (I know, what kind of nerd am I) and The Hurt Locker, which I have seen: "I also thought both movies did well in wedding the viewer to protagonists who were, to one extent or another, unlikeable." Read the whole post for more goodness.

Unfortunately, The Hurt Locker was pretty far from my favorite film I saw in theaters for 2009 (that'd be Up, or, I don't know, Inglorious Basterds) -- read why (with spoilers) after the jump.

A lot of reviews have pointed out that the film's suspense level is incredibly tangible and intense, mostly thanks to the main character in the film; as Alyssa points outs, "William James is so reckless to a certain extent that you don't want to like him because you're convinced he's going to kill himself at some point." However, James' recklessness, coupled with the narrative contingencies of feature films, undermined the suspense for me. I'll admit that I was surprised that the first bomb squad leader we see dies in the opening scene, but beyond that, I was certain that the rest of the guys, from Sanborn to Eldridge and especially James, would physically survive for most of the film. For James, his kind of crazy is the entire point of the movie, which wouldn't kill him and its own raison d'etre off mid-film. Neither would The Hurt Locker kill off his teammates, mainly because if either of them died, the film would've had to introduce a new replacement character who'd have to go through the process of building a new relationship with Sgt. James -- been there done that in narrative terms. Don't get me wrong, The Hurt Locker was tense -- especially when James has to defuse the corpse -- but it didn't reach a superlative level that I expected it to.

I will say this: when the bomb goes off in the first scene and we get that super-slow-motion shot of the gravel and dust flying off the ground -- that was some righteous film-making right there.

Indie rating: Prefuse 73 - "Life/Death"

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