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The Hurt Locker DVD Review - -

Feature 9.0
Video 8.0
Audio 8.0
Special Features 5.0
Total 7.5
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time: 126 minutes
Classification: MA15+
Troy Mayes


The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelowís The Hurt Locker is probably one of the greatest war films and, more importantly, probably the best Iraq War movie ever made. The film, which cleaned up at the Oscars, is a thrilling and exhilarating piece of cinema that has you glued to the edge of your seat and you can now own it on DVD.  

The film focuses on an elite operations team in Iraq which is tasked with disarming bombs in Iraq. The job is high risk with zero margin for error. One false move and theyíre going home in a body bag. Enter Staff Sergeant James the teamís new leader and a soldier who feeds off the adrenaline of war like a drug. Heís reckless and takes unnecessary risks but heís also the best there is, having disarmed over 800 bombs.  

Itís the introduction of Sergeant James, played brilliantly by Jeremy Renner, that changes The Hurt Locker from your regular explosion fuelled war film into something deeper and more serious while adding that all important human touch to proceedings. Jamesís actions not only put his own life at risk but they also put his team at risk, Sergeant JT Sandborn played by Anthony Mackie and Specialist Owen Eldridge played by Brian Geraghty. Thereís just over a month before Sandborn and Eldridge rotate out of Iraq but with James leading the team the chances of making out alive are decreasing all the time.  

The way Bigelow delves into the minds of the soldiers is fantastic and quite revealing and also is what makes the film work as an Iraq war movie. It leaves politics at the door and instead focuses on the soldiers and this allows a greater audience to appreciate the film. In the case of Sergeant James it asks the question ďhow can you stop doing something youíre good at if itís going to save the lives of others, even if it puts yours at risk?Ē James is like an artist, itís just his skill has the potential to kill him. The film also seeks to point out that James is a rare breed by contrasting him with the paranoid, obsessed-with-death Eldridge and the by-the-book Sandborn who thinks James is nuts. It shows that war develops and showcases different aspects of people. 

The acting is top notch with Renner in fine form as James. He doesnít deliver lofty speeches or anything like that instead itís in his actions, his demeanour, that he sells this cocky, risk taking professional who is only really alive when heís diffusing bombs. Mackie is the perfect foil to Rennerís James. If we donít have Mackie yelling at Renner for taking unnecessary risks then Renner would have been elevated to action hero status but instead heís almost an anti-hero that we scrutinise. Finally itís Geraghtyís performance as the paranoid Eldridge that brings real heart and emotion to the story. He is the constant reminder that the human mind is a fragile thing that, under pressure, can crack quite easily and unless you can remain in control itíll consume you. He also displays how vulnerable these soldiers can be. 

The film is shot superbly and this helps to build suspense. Bigelow uses a raw documentary style that uses a lot of movement in the camera to give you a sense that you are right there in the thick of the action. When the team are working on a bomb the camera is constantly sweeping the surrounding buildings and rooftops to highlight the danger involved with going out into the hostile streets where snipers could be anywhere. Meanwhile explosions are captured brilliantly to show that what James and his team are doing is intensely dangerous. 

The film is presented in 1.78:1 fullframe. The transfer doesnít highlight any damages to the print or any deficiencies in the image. Thereís a lot of grain and haze in the image but they are stylistic choices used to enhance that documentary, over the shoulder feel. Colours arenít over exposed so people donít look fake and everything has a very natural, albeit drab, look thanks to the dirt and sandy colour scheme of suburban Iraq. This colour palette is punctuated by bright oranges and yellows from the explosions. 

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The soundtrack makes use of a lot of ambient noise, like planes and gunfire, to make it seem like youíre actually in a war zone. The audio utilises the full surround during gun fights and explosions to really suck you in but the film doesnít over use the full surround to make it feel like an assault on your senses. Bigelow makes use of a lot silence to help build tension and suspense as well as deep breathing from inside the bomb suit. Dialogue is clearly audible the whole way through even amongst all the explosions and gunfire you are never left wondering what someone said which is great and another marker that the film hasnít strayed into typical action film territory. 

The DVD comes with a few special features like Audio Commentary with Director Kathryn Bigelow and Writer Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker: Behind the Scenes and an Image Gallery but I was really expecting something more from the package. It would have been good to see interviews and discussions with actual bomb techs from Iraq or Afghanistan but the audio commentary with Bigelow and Boal is still quite interesting and Boal does touch on the subject matter.  

The Hurt Locker is a brilliant film that receives a faithful transition to DVD making it a must buy. Itís a suspenseful edge of your seat war film that has great characters and thrilling action. If only the package came with a few more fleshed out special features itíd be a truly great DVD. 



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