It is the first movie about a modern war to win the Oscar for Best Picture and even though it was released in other parts of the world several months ago and is even officially available on DVD it is quite exciting to be able to watch an Oscar-winning movie of the calibre of The Hurt Locker on our cinema screens.
The Hurt Locker focuses on the lives of an elite Army bomb squad and the challenges its members face while attempting to disarm live explosives in wartime Iraq.
The movie follows the exploits of Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner), Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and the other soldiers attempting to survive their tour of duty. Executed as a series of tense set pieces, the economical narrative gives audiences a first-hand idea of what it must be like out there in the middle of a battle zone where every object is a potential threat and every individual a possible enemy.
Shot with multiple cameras under the supervision of cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, on location in Jordan, each situation where Sergeant James comes up against an explosive device is injected so full of tension and drama that I wouldn't blame you for forgetting to breathe while the sequence plays out.
Could this be the movie that defines this war for future generations? More so than any other film released thus far on the subject. Because it underscores the world we live in while also holding us all up as less than laudable examples of humanity.
The Hurt Locker doesn't offer much insight into its characters by way of character development outside of their actions in the war zone. There is a plot strand involving a local Iraqi boy that is supposed to infuse the whole enterprise with a sense of pathos but it is the least effective of all the material we see on screen, largely because it is presented in that ham-handed Hollywood manner that offends more often than it enlightens.
The rest of this movie however is sublime. A genuine cinematic achievement. And perhaps in the classic vein of true genius not being recognised in its own time The Hurt Locker is also (to date) the lowest grossing Best Picture Oscar winner ever.
Jeremy Renner's performance is first rate and Kathryn Bigelow's direction shames purveyors of testosterone working with much larger budgets. That she became the first woman director to win the Best Director award in the eighty two-year history of the Oscar ceremonies is an honour well deserved.
Check this movie out on a cinema screen near you because if you don't, you won't have anyone else to blame when the quality films fail to grace our movie screens in the future.