I am so pumped right now. I feel like I just knocked out Sylvester Stallone with one punch after he looked at my girl wrong. I feel like Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt just asked me to be the lead in their new movie where I play a priest with a secret heavy weapons bunker. I feel like Bruce Willis just called to thank me for showing him how it’s done. I feel like the sniper in every war movie that had a sniper. Combined.
After I left the theater, I flipped over a car with my hands. It was a BMW and I didn’t like the color.
The Hurt Locker is Kathryn Bigelow‘s new movie (starring Jeremy Renner) about three Explosive Ordnance Disposal soldiers in Iraq. Whenever anyone reports a suspected improvised explosive device, they get called in to deal with it.
In Jarhead the soldiers spent a lot of time sitting around waiting for action. Here, they go find it. It’s one high-intensity sequence after another. It’s the anti-Jarhead.
It’s also a movie about the Iraq war. There’s no way around it. It has a couple things to say in that respect, mostly about masculinity and the impersonal style of modern fighting, but it’s really positioned as an action movie. In other words, the explosions do most of the talking.
All context is basically forgotten. There is no chain of command. No politics. No overarching mission. No strategy. No real back stories. AND ABSOLUTELY NO PRISONERS! It’s like chugging a six pack of red bull…on a battleship. (Man, I’m pumped).
I had to spend a few minutes wondering, do these three guys ever interact with anyone but each other? Do they have superior officers? Do they follow orders or do they get to call their own shots? Why do they roam around the middle of the desert? Why, if one was an Army Ranger in Afghanistan and another did intelligence work for 7 years, are they now a bomb squad in Iraq?
Its basic philosophy is that the war is a game of cowboys and Indians and the cowboys that diffuse bombs are the Clint Eastwoods of the military. These guys don’t want explanations and they don’t need explanations because it doesn’t matter if you’re a freedom fighter or a terrorist when you’re holding enough C4 to turn a city block into yogurt.
The mission might be the simplest one in the war: don’t die, and yet it’s the simplicity that makes it the most maddening. If these guys ever had the luxury of picking their own battles, they threw it out with their sanity and aversion to pain. Thankfully, Kathryn Bigelow still has that luxury and she picks her battles well.
The Hurt Locker is playing at the Sundance Kabuki, AMC Van Ness, and Embarcadero theaters.