“The Hurt Locker” sat on the shelf for almost an entire week following its arrival from Netflix. I apologize to anybody who experienced a delay in receiving a copy this week, but sometimes work just gets in the way.  And, I just couldn’t get myself in the right mood to pop it in the DVD player. I have to be honest. I just needed to be in the right frame of mind.
Ultimately, I gave up on that pursuit and sat down to watch it Saturday night. Hey, the credits had to roll before the 84 hours of Oscar preview shows began on Sunday. I needed to put another check box in my listed “Seen Its” before watching Alec Baldwin and Mr. Steve Martin bring us the Awards.

Enough tap-dancing – What did I think of the movie?

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The first observation from viewing this film is the obvious.

The tension of this film is palpable from the opening frame. Every line, every interaction … every blink … just might trigger the next IED explosion. And there is the crux of the film. You are put into the fourth seat of the Humvee to join the EOD crew in their missions, heads on a swivel to continually assess potential threats.

The conversations, even when they turn to introspection and the creation a personal bond between the soldiers, leave you uneasy. The long shots of vast desert demonstrate the isolation of Delta Company as the countdown to the end of their tour continues. There are, of course, other soldiers in the area and you get those shots in a few base scenes. But, ultimately, the EOD crew is shown as detached from the rest of the mission. I likened their calls to the one placed to Harvey Keitel, “The Wolf,” in “Pulp Fiction.” He comes in to clean up the mess and, humorous anecdotes and zippy one-liners aside, there’s still a matter of life and death here.

I also admit here that early on, I had the question (in my head, for fear of losing any respect my wife had/has for me) of how they determined who wore “the suit.” Was it a question of size and stature, as in the famous “Brady Bunch” episode where Greg dreams of pop idol superstardom? My digressions into the pop culture reservoir was short-lived. I snapped back into reality and found myself trying to get into the heads of this crew and Renner’s character.
Kathryn Bigelow is expected to become the first women to win a directing Oscar. She effectively stretched that tension for over 2 hours. She demonstrated the agony of the job mixed with the adrenaline rush and bravado in Renner’s character and how his head-first way of doing his job impacted morale and the psyches of his fellow soldiers. I applaud Bigelow’s restraint and selective use of music.

This wasn’t your typical Army ad with a heavy metal riff in the background. Sure, there were moments of heavy strains, but tell me you didn’t see this thing and wait for Renner to don the suit and walk toward an EOD with “American Badass” blaring in the background. Seriously, you didn’t hum a couple bars along the way?

When the “365” tag appeared at the top of the screen and the credits began to roll, I said a quick prayer of thanks for our friends and families currently overseas and those who have completed their service, not to mention their families.  It is one of those films that helps you reset your sense of self, if only momentarily. I then added “The Hurt Locker” to that ever-expanding list of films that I enjoyed and that I’m glad that I saw. It’s also in that list of films that I don’t intend to revisit anytime soon.
I promise to get the DVD back in the mail tomorrow so they can update the label with its Oscar wins.