The Hurt Locker

Rated 5.0

Kathryn Bigelow’s much-anticipated movie about bomb-defusers in the war in Iraq—filmed almost entirely on location in Jordan and Kuwait—is a thoroughly fascinating mixture of generic war movie with a quasi-documentary portrayal of a distinctive kind of modern warrior in this particular war, with some of its unique demands and baffling circumstances held in sharp focus. Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal don’t take any particular stand on the history and politics of the war, but their portrayals of Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) and his bomb-disposal unit provide a good many telling glimpses of the terrible and sometimes tragic paradoxes of combat in Iraq. Renner is superb in the central role, a grimly heroic figure just a click or two away from madness, and his mixture of daring and desperation is right at the heart of the film’s most intriguing implications. Neither celebration nor exposé, The Hurt Locker is a powerful and unusually engrossing action drama, and it’s distinguished by kinds of honesty and intelligence that are very rare in action movies and war films of this or any other era. Pageant Theatre. Rated R