The Hurt Locker

Oscar winning film The Hurt Locker is a 2008 (released widely only in 2009) film directed & produced by Katheryn Bigelow on a screenplay written by Mark Boal, a freelance writer who was embedded as a journalist in 2004 with a U.S. Army EOD team in Iraq. It stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty. The movie focuses on a 3 man  Explosive Ordnance Disposal (bomb disposal) team during the Iraq War.

After the death of team leader (Guy Pearce in a tiny role) of a U.S. Army EOD unit in the Iraq War, he is replaced by Sergeant First Class William James a battle-tested veteran who seems to do things his own way. The other two members are Sergeant J.T. Sanborn and  Specialist Owen Eldridge. James’s cavalier attitude and maverick ways make Sanborn & Eldridge uneasy and the tension increases. James even removes his headset at one point after Sanborn urges him to leave after they suspect hostiles watching them and possibly about to remote detonate a bomb, while they respond to a threat outside a UN building. Sanborn & Eldridge even openly contemplates killing James by “accidentally” triggering an explosion when they are assigned to destroy some explosives out in the desert as James returns to the detonation site to pick up his gloves, in another show of a devil may care attitude. Eldridge is nervous even though he had stated that his death would probably be because of James.

However the team encounters five a private military contractors and British mercenaries who need help with their  truck and are attacked by Iraqis. 3 of the mercenaries are killed but James & Sanborn use sniper tactics to kill 3 of the men, with Eldridge, guided by James, kills the fourth. The 3 of them unwind by drinking and punching each other to let off steam but once again James goes too far provoking Sanborn and the latter even pulls a knife on him. During a raid on a warehouse James discovers the body of a young boy, which has been surgically implanted with an unexploded bomb. James believes the boy to be “Beckham” a dvd seller with a potty mouth who he had bonded with and played a bit of soccer near their camp. James is visibly shaken by the sight of the dead boy During evacuation, Lieutenant Colonel John Cambridge (Christian Camargo), the camp’s psychiatrist and a friend of Eldridge’s, is killed in an explosion; Eldridge blames himself for the Colonel’s death. Later, James leaves the military compound seeking revenge for Beckham and breaks into the house of an Iraqi professor, but his search reveals nothing and he leaves. After the team is called to a petrol tanker denotation, James leads the other two on their own search against regulations and Eldridge ends up shot in the leg as insurgents capture him and his team rescues him. The following morning, James is approached by Beckham, who James believed was dead. The young boy tries to play soccer with James and sell him more DVDs, but the soldier walks by without saying a word. Before being airlifted for surgery elsewhere, Eldridge angrily blames James for his injury.

2 days before their unit is to go back to the US after their tour, an Iraqi man with a bomb vest strapped to his chest approaches them saying he has been forced to wear it at gun point by the insurgents and that he doesn’t want to die. James tries to cut off the locks to remove the vest, but there are too many to undo in the time available before the bomb will detonate. He has to abandon the man, who is killed when the bombs explode. Sanborn is left distraught by the man’s death; he confesses to James that he can no longer cope with the pressure and wants to return home and have a son. As their tour of Iraq ends, James returns home to his wife, Connie and their infant son but finds himself unable to adjust to civilian life. One night, playing with his baby son he confesses that there is only one thing he loves to do. Shortly thereafter, he starts another tour of duty serving with Delta Company U.S. Army EOD unit as they are starting their 365-day rotation.

As a rule I rarely watch American war movies as I have my own personal feelings about them. Especially something like Iraq which is an unjust war. Is the movie good? Yes I thought it was well acted and made, with Jeremey Renner doing an excellent job and leading other good performances. But I don’t see why this one the best movie at the Oscars and chalk it upto the Academy loving American war movies. It’s an 8 outta 10 for me!

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