On The Couch #8: The Hurt Locker

Anyone thinking about enlisting in the military should be forced to watch The Hurt Locker. Chances are after seeing this movie, they’ll think twice about signing up. Unless they’re like SSG William James, an adrenaline junkie who consistently manages to get his team in as much trouble as he gets them out of. But unlike most action-war movies, Sergeant James’s actions aren’t glorified in any way. He’s technically proficient at what he does, but he, and those around him, pay the consequences for his decisions.

Those things will kill you.

The Hurt Locker is unapologetic look at life in the war in Iraq. Focusing on men in the army’s bomb squad, possibly the most dangerous assignment in Iraq, the film does an excellent job at getting the viewer into the heads of the soldiers serving in the unit. When the enemy looks and dresses the same as the friendly, the US soldiers are forced to be on constant, nerve-fraying high alert, knowing that anyone along the street, or watching from a rooftop, could be specifically there to kill them…or not. It’s that constant not knowing of who the enemy is that heightens the suspense in the film to so much.

After watching The Hurt Locker, I have a new appreciation for the men and women who serve in our armed forces fighting overseas. And I’m glad it’s not me. I also hope that any friends and family over there come home as soon as possible, and decide not to go back.

The only big stars in The Hurt Locker are Ralph Fiennes and Evangeline Lilly, both who make only cameos. I listened to an interview with Kathryn Bigelow where she said that it was a conscious decision not to cast big stars in the main roles, because she didn’t want the audience to think at any point that any of these characters could not die. She exceeded at that. The characters in the film are constantly put in harm’s way and not all of them live to see the end credits.

Ralph Fiennes in The Hurt Locker

The Oscars are only hours away and while the field for Best Picture has been opened up to 10 films this year, the popular opinion is that there are really only two contenders: The Hurt Locker and Avatar. Now that I have seen both, I think Avatar will win. I thought The Hurt Locker was a great movie, and I think that Kathryn Bigelow should win Best Director, but I liked Avatar more. In a truly just world though, The Hangover would take home Best Picture.

Movie of the Year