The best film of 2009–and director Kathryn Bigelow’s masterpiece. Largely unknown Jeremy Renner gives a brave performance as an elite bomb disposal technician in Iraq, who goes about his job with reckless abandon, fueled by the adrenaline rush of danger; in short, he’s addicted. Anthony Mackie plays the by-the-book second in command, and Brian Geraghty is the specialist who cannot come to terms with the randomness of death.
The story, small and intimate in its way, makes no political statements about war, instead containing itself to these three characters and the job they do.
Bigelow–who will probably become the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar–directs with gritty, intense realism, gathering suspense incrementally, as when Renner successfully diffuses an IED buried in the sand–and discovers a nasty surprise. That payoff shot (shamelessly plastered on every poster in North America) is masterful, and the sequence where the unit fends off enemy snipers in the desert is one of the best I’ve ever seen on film.
I’ve previously proclaimed Jeremy Renner the next great actor of his generation, but his roles to date have largely been supporting. As a man who understands his place in war, and finds himself compelled to do little else, he finally has a showcase for his astonishing range and intensity. It’s a great performance.
So stop what you’re doing, and see The Hurt Locker; you won’t be disappointed.