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…

One of the best reviews so far was written by Time‘s Richard Corliss nine months ago, way back at the Venice Film Festival. It’s titled “A Near-Perfect War Film.” The last two graphs read as follows:

“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.”