Who? Jeremy Renner (unhinged), Guy Pearce (brief), Ralph Fiennes (great beard), Brian Geraghty (psychologically frail), Anthony Mackie (stern)
What’s it about? Point Break director Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker focuses on a bomb disposal unit’s work in Baghdad during the Iraq war. They’re a trio, led by Staff Sergeant William James (Renner), and they get called into action when other soldiers find massive bombs. They suss out the situation, put James in a protective suit and send him into the death zone with balls of steel and a pair of wire cutters.
What’s good about it? The script is written by a journalist, Mark Boal, who spent time with a real bomb squad in Iraq. The film was shot in Jordan, and all the Iraqi parts are played by refugees so there’s a hint of Generation Kill authenticity to it. Most poignantly, it offers a different perspective on the war to the generally negative one on the news. But The Hurt Locker doesn’t make any dramatic politic points, it just highlights how for some soldiers the smells, tastes, action, excitement, danger and near-death thrills of war are addictive. It’s not gung ho, and there’s a mass of misery to counteract any suggestions that war is awesome. But the lovers of war love war despite the misery. That's the key point. Jeremy Renner (a semi-hilarious hybrid of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Craig) is immense as the hard-ass, hard-drinking, heavy-smoking, shrapnel-wounded, consequence-shirking, boredom-fearing but ultimately brilliant Sergeant James. He plays the part like the war effort depends on it.
What’s bad about it? The British Army (Ralph Fiennes and chums) get a rough deal with a brief cameo in the film as incompetent poshos who need to be rescued by the Americans. It feels like an unnecessary dig. And given the film was filmed two years ago, the techniques employed by the soldiers are probably out of date.
Verdict: The Hurt Locker isn’t about civilians, or politicians, or anyone who goes on TV or radio to talk bollocks about something they know nothing about, it’s about soldiers who find comfort in a world of pain. And also explosions. Enormous explosions. And guns. Loads of guns.
When? In cinemas August 28.