JT Film Review

72 – The Hurt Locker (2009)

The Hurt Locker REVIEW

2.5/5 stars

Director – Kathryn Bigelow

Cast – Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, David Morse, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes


The Hurt Locker follows a hotshot American bomb defuser, William James, as he makes his way through a tour of duty in Iraq. James is played by Jeremy Renner, previously appearing in 28 Weeks Later.

First of all I would like to mention that I am fully aware of the massive critical success of this movie. 97% on Rotten Tomatoes is nothing to laugh at. Maybe I do need to watch the movie again. However, I don’t see what else I can do to try to like this movie. I was extremely excited about seeing it, went in with an open mind, etc. Nothing doing, though. After watching it I realized I did not like the movie at all. Where to start…

The major problem with the movie (in my view) is an extremely episodic and uneven story. I felt throughout that I was watching a series of TV episodes, unconnected except for the main characters and a vaguely similar tone.The most infuriating thing is that some of the individual sequences are quite good, riveting even. But there is very little story here, and what there is is heavy-handed and full of cliché. We’ve all seen the fully dressed guy go into the shower to show his inner turmoil; the rough military guys play-fighting and it gets out of control, thus showing how fragile war makes us, etc etc.

It isn’t like the movie is lacking in ideas either. There are probably half a dozen different plot points touched on in the movie that could have gone somewhere, but instead they stop dead, usually before they’ve had a chance to develop. The young boy whom James thinks dies, the private contractors they meet in the desert, etc. All of these could have been molded into a story, but were not.

I have also never seen a worse depiction of the Iraqi people. Every single one (with one exception) is shown as a jabbering, stupid, illogical savage who must be grabbed, pushed, or cordoned off if there is to be any order in the country. Is Bigelow trying to just show us how the US Army may see these people? If so, that didn’t come across, nor was there any addressing of the huge issues involved in the American involvement in the area. In fact the point of the movie (from what I gather, that war sucks and is addicting) gets buried by little ideological side roads, each one tricking the viewer into thinking that it will be an issue to be explored.

As I said, the movie seems like episodes of a show shoved together. Any story issues are “solved” by just bringing another celebrity in for a cameo, killing them off, and then giving us a meticulously shot explosion. With no story arc, no character development, and with no clear point of where we are going, how can we as an audience expect to care? While I do plan on watching it again to try and see why everyone else seems to like it, I didn’t care about anyone or anything in the movie on the first viewing.


The Hurt Locker consists of some amazing sequences, some extremely contrived ones, and no story to speak of to tie it all together. The performances are good (especially an amazing small cameo by David Morse). But HOW CAN WE CARE if there is no story or any character arcs? Search me.



“The Hurt Locker” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



January 19, 2010 - Posted by | 2.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - War, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , ,


  1. I felt like the character of William James was the story. This wasn’t a political film — it’s a story set during a contemporary war about a soldier who believes he’s wired a little differently. It was filmed as if a cameraman were embedded with the crew, and I think that directed the sequences. You’re probably aware of all these things, but I think it did what it was intended to do which was to make an intense movie that wasn’t built around action sequences — it shows the psychological side. I appreciate your review — just saying I liked it. =D

    Comment by G | March 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Most people DID like it, I am in the minority on that. Like I said, I plan on watching it again to see what I missed.

      However I do disagree that it was filmed as if a cameraman were embedded with the men; the camera wasn’t passive enough for that I don’t think. I also think that it actually relied on action too much, and what passed for psychological depth was rarely more than cliche.

      Thanks for the comment, and for being so polite about it! I’ve yet to meet a typical Internet douche-bag commenter on this blog, and I hope it stays that way… I hope you enjoy the blog, and happy film-watching!

      Comment by jamesturpin | March 25, 2010 | Reply

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