Who's In It: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty and a dozen other actors you've never heard of. In fact, there's only 4 actors I even recognized.
What It's About: A bomb specialist defuses bombs around Baghdad with the 2 soldiers assigned to protect him.
What I Was Expecting: A lot of Oscar buzz for this film, but it's directed by Kathryn Bigelow, whose claim to fame is friggin' "Point Break." I went in very skeptical.
What I Got: A war film with the tension cranked up so high, I actually found myself closing my eyes because you knew something bad was going to happen. The film is unbelievably intense. It is similar in a sense to the brilliant "Black Hawk Down". The major difference between the films is that in BHD, the characters got trapped in a horrific situation and were simply trying to escape. In "The Hurt Locker", the characters walk into those situations willingly and repeatedly. Another aspect that makes this film so brilliant is that it doesn't pretend to know why, but seems to be looking for the same answer the audience wants to know. There's no real plot in this film. Much like "Platoon", it just follows these soldiers around during their last 40 days or so of their tour in Iraq. But unlike "Platoon", this is not a message picture. It's a character study. The performances are flawless. In fact, the only flaw in the film is when it tries to establish some sort of plot involving an Iraqi boy, but it doesn't dwell too long on it thankfully. Looking at what else is coming out this year, it's quite possible this is the best film we will see in 2009. It would be very hard to top.
Oscar Potential: At the moment, this is the film to beat. Expect nominations, if not wins, for Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Screenplay, Score, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Effects Editing. In fact, I would say the last three are locks to win.
Five Random Thoughts:
1. I love how this film refuses to follow The Law of Economy of Characters. That means that, cameos aside, if there's an actor you recognize, he/she must be important to the story. This film has Guy Pearce, David Morse, Ralph Fiennes and Evangeline Lilly and none of them could be less essential to the film. They have one, maybe two scenes each.
2. The score is excellent, even if it sounds like a carbon copy of the score from "There Will Be Blood."
3. They should show this film at things like the X Games. Recruitment would go up for thrill seekers.
4. I love how finding out who is planting all these bombs is inessential to the film. All that matters is that the bomb be disarmed.
5. I was REALLY hoping for an explanation of what a hurt locker is.
Taking Woodstock: It's Ang Lee, so I guess he gets the benefit of the doubt, but this film looks lousy. Soundtrack should be good though.
The Time Traveler's Wife: I wish they'd have done something with this trailer that would make me think it's not as formulaic as it looks.
Shutter Island: This trailer would be MUCH more effective if it had told us less. Looks creepy though.
Sorority Row: I Know What You Did Last Semester? (Eyes rolling.)