Film Break: “The Hurt Locker”
If you’ve yet to see an Iraq War film that you’ve really loved, or even liked– well, you’re not alone; politically-charged war movies have been notoriously disastrous in the 00s, perhaps because moviegoers get enough Middle Eastern conflict on the nightly news, but probably because most of the movies have sucked. Personally, I hadn’t seen a single Iraq movie that didn’t deserve its dismal fate– at least not until I saw The Hurt Locker. This one’s a bomb of a different kind– a cinematic smart bomb, explosive and precise. Taking a few cues from Dr. Strangelove, which linked violence to human nature by equating war with sex, Hurt Locker‘s central conceit is to compare war to addiction, a move that works astoundingly well: Though it tells the story of an American bomb squad stationed in war-torn Iraq, the real ticking time bombs are the men themselves. This is a psychologically deep, thematically rich, and utterly engrossing film that fuses edge-of-your-seat intensity with high-stakes suspense and startling philosophical sophistication. And the nuanced way it captures a particularly macho, masculine taste for violence? Well, let’s just say you’ll be floored to know that this one was directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. The writing is first-rate, the performances are ace, and the cinematography makes you feel like you’re right there within the blast radius– but it’s the internal drama that will leave you rattled.