11 days and counting until the N.Y./L.A. platform break of Kathryn Bigelow‘s The Hurt Locker. No Metacritic reactions are posted but the current 89% positive Rotten Tomatoes rating is probably indicative of critical reaction to come. Will it matter? Will the no-Iraq-movies-under-any-circumstances crowd stick to their guns? Will the idea that it’s actually a suspense thriller by way of Aliens take hold? Tick, tick, tick, tick…
“On his first mission, Sgt. James (Jeremy Renner) releases a cloud of smoke, protecting him from sharpshooters but obliterating his comrades’ view of him. (There’s another company ready to cover him closer to the action.) A taxi has just edged toward the suspected device; he tells the driver to back out of the area. No movement. James walks closer, repeats the order; stillness. He puts his gun against the man’s head: ‘Wanna back up?’ The car slides into reverse. ‘Well, if he wasn’t an insurgent,’ somebody says, ‘he sure is now.’
“Finding a string nearly buried in the street dirt, James finds it attached to seven bombs and matter-of-factly snaps the wire for each. OK, that’s done. Piece of cake, seven slices.
“It’s a creepy marvel to watch James in action. He has the cool aplomb, analytical acumen and attention to detail of a great athlete, or a master psychopath, maybe both.
“A quote from former New York Times Iraq expert Christopher Hedges that opens the film says, ‘War is a drug.’ Movies often editorialize on this theme: the man who’s a misfit back home but an efficient, imaginative killing machine on the battlefield. Bigelow and producer/screenwriter Mark Boal aren’t after that. They’re saying that, in a hellish peace-keeping operation like the U.S. deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan (James’ previous assignment), the Army needs guys like James.”