The Hurt Locker has just been released in cinemas in Singapore and it is one the most riveting, raw and tense movie I have ever seen this year. This could be the ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘ of 2009.
The movie tells a story of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) during the early stages of the American occupation of Iraq. The role of the EOD is to respond to any terrorists’ related bomb threats and dispose of any unexploded bombs in the country. In the beginning of the movie, Staff Sergeant Thomson was killed by a remote-detonated improvised explosive device in Baghdad. He was immediately replaced by Sergeant First Class William James, who became the leader of the unit, alongside Sergeant Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge.
Throughout the movie, they go from mission to mission, disposing and retrieving unexploded ordnance from various parts of Iraq and closely shows the challenges, physically and mentally, these guys faced during their missions in Iraq. Jame’s arrival to the unit created a lot of friction with Sanborn and Owen Eldridge, due to his recklessness when dealing with explosives. This creates tensions among the group and it shows the great uphill tasks that this group had to go through during the final days of their tour.
The Hurt Locker is based on first hand accounts of a freelance journalist named Mark Boal, who closely followed an American bomb squad in the war in Iraq. Director Kathryn Bigelow took up his accounts and carved a story to make this movie, while closely working and keeping in touch with the journalist. Therefore, although the movie is largely fictional, the experiences gained during the war and the the retelling of real events by Boal made this movie one of the most intense movie I have ever watched this year. The fact that all these is somehow truthful to a certain degree, added to the realism of it all.
Throughout the movie, it contained nothing but tense moments all the way through, and it is very refreshing to watch this movie because you see these American soldiers in a whole new different light. As I watched this movie, I somehow gained a whole new level of respect to these elite team and truly appreciate the work that they done, that you do not usually see on TV.
At the same time, life in Iraq was also portrayed really accurately. As the movie is actually a recount of Boal’s experiences through the eyes of a journalist, the depictions of life in Iraq during the occupation is visceral and raw. The hardships citizens of Iraq face everyday, with all the instability and constant bomb threats, its easy overlook the fact that they are truly suffering as well in times of war.
For those who have not watch this movie, you better watch it now, literally. This movie was originally meant for a limited release, but due to critical acclaim during festival screenings, it was given a wider release in the US. I do not know how long it will continue screening in Singapore, but to play safe, you have to watch this movie ASAP. The Straits Times recently wrote an article about this movie, and touted as Oscar material movie with a 4 out of 5 star review to back its claim, its a no brainer that this is the movie to watch right now.
Watch the trailer below to get a feel for this movie.