The Hurt Locker

November 4, 2010 - Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar for her work on this film about a U.S. Army bomb disposal unit in Iraq. Jeremy Renner stars as the adrenaline junkie who heads the unit. Look for Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse and Evangeline Lilly in smaller roles.

The movie focuses on the members of Bravo Company, who are about 11 months into their year-long tour of duty in Iraq. As the days tick down, the missions seem to become more and more dangerous. Renner's character of SFC William James doesn't help matters. He's cool under pressure and good at his job. But, the other members of his team still worry that he'll get them all killed in these final days before they go home.

Overall Review: *** This tension-filled character study won six Oscars in all, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Still, for me, it felt like a bit of a letdown. I can't put a finger on exactly why. It just didn't – if you'll pardon the expression – blow me away.

It reminds me of how I felt after seeing Batman Returns (the one with the Penguin and Catwoman) for the first time. As I recall, a constant barrage of commercials tied the film to kid-oriented promotions for at least one fast-food chain. So, I went to the theater expecting a movie suitable for the Happy Meal set. It's not. Batman Returns is very dark and full of sexual innuendo. I left the theater not liking the film at all. But, watching it again later, knowing what to expect, I liked it much better.

I think that may be the case with The Hurt Locker. I don't recall seeing ads or previews that made me think it was going to be a particular kind of film. But, whatever it was that I expected it to be, it wasn't. Now, having seen it once, I'm not totally sold on it, but I think it might be worth a second look.