I often buy films that I never got to see in the cinema based on their hype alone. As I’ve said in recent posts, I used to rely on Rotten Tomatoes and the reviews listed on the site to help me chose my movies. However, as much as the site overlooks some gems, Rotten Tomatoes also over-praise some films.
The Hurt Locker is such a film
The Hurt Locker feels like it was made by that SOB in school that thought he was the smartest person in the building – but he wasn’t, he was just a git (in this case, he is a she). Hurt Locker feels overdone, it feels over complicated and it’s a missed opportunity to tell a story about a conflict that has influenced the lives of my generation, whether they like it or not.
For mid-twenty somethings, the Iraq war is a big deal. We saw the birth of the war on terror. I still remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. Although I was and I am too much of a coward to sign up for the UK Army, I still take great interest in how this conflict is portrayed on film - and The Hurt Locker doesn’t ring true. None of it.
Jeremy Renner’s Sergeant James feels like a 2D character with no complexity to him. He comes across as an idiot, not someone who is emotionally compromised because of his time in Iraq or Afghanistan. Just a reckless git.
The rest of his team come off as whingers who I forget about as soon as the credits roll.
Ultimately, I come out of watching The Hurt Locker thinking, what is it actually trying to say? If it’s not trying to say anything, what is it actually trying to do? Because I just don’t know.
I’m placing a lot of the blame for the shortcomings of this film on the director’s shoulder, Kathryn Bigelow. I don’t think there is a story here. I don’t even think that she makes any attempt to tell one, which is ok, to a point.
The much lauded actions scenes are not tense, they’re boring. They feel empty and distant.
I am amazed that this is the same woman that made the brilliant Zero Dark Thirty which addresses all of my problems with this film - and then some.
War films should give the audience a feel, even if it’s the slightest hint, of what it’s like to be a soldier in that conflict. This film fails this litmus test.
I got sold on this film being part of a long and illustrious tradition of American War films, such as Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and The Deer Hunter. The makers of those three films should be very offended.