This movie has been out for a long time now (a really long time when you consider when it was made) and hauled in a bunch of awards yet I just saw it. Why? Don’t know, sat there with some other Blu-rays from Netflix for a while. Rather than write an entire treatise I will do a micro-review, a quick snapshot of what I liked and didn’t like.
- Fantastic cinematography: Really wish the Academy voters would have rewarded some great old school cinematography over the 3D gimmickry.
- Great core characters: The three core characters of the film are well fleshed out, they are what drives the film. Wow, a film with characters, how un-Hollywood!
- Kathryn Bigelow: Best Director was well deserved, I was floored. I thought this was hype (i.e. how could the director of Point Break get best director?) but it surely was not. Excellent work.
- Core theme: The core theme about combat and what it does to soldiers was, I think, well done. In that regard this film is probably one of the best films about war ever made. I don’t like all of how it got there (see below) but it was well done.
- Jeremy Renner: Absolutely fantastic job. He had his John Wayne game face but could flip it around and show the vulnerability (i.e. Beckham parts and shower scene). It’s too bad he ran into someone who was owed an Oscar.
- Complete fancy: This film is a joke when it comes to representing the job of an EOD. They don’t act like this, if they do they are dead EODs.
- Unit of supermen: Hey let’s make ourselves snipers and we won’t call for any support we’ll just hang out here with these mercs all day! Let’s split up in a hostile area at night! Let’s never use a radio or call for support! It helps isolate the core characters but there is no doubt this film fails miserably when it comes to realism.
- Military stereotypes: We have another “all officers are idiots” film. I love David Morse, he’s one of my favorite actors but to see him do this cheesy stereotypical good ole boy full bird colonel imitation was terrible and pointless. Depicting our troops acting this way I think bordered on disrespectful and stretched artistic license. Then we have the lieutenant colonel psychologist which was equally nauseating (like the team would just leave him to hang out in the street).
- US stereotypes: Just what we needed, another movie portraying Americans as a bunch of “yee ha let’s go kill ’em all” types.
I’ve never had such a film that struck me with this kind of mixed verdict. I am going Machiavelli on this one in that I like the point the film made and I liked this as a film so overall I score it as a great film. However, I certainly didn’t like how it got there. It leaves me asking the question if Bigelow could have gotten to that message without taking the shortcuts or not? Did she have to create these utterly unrealistic situations to isolate the core characters? I’ve come to the conclusion that, to an extent, she did.
There’s a great risk you take when you make a war film about a war that is still going on. Many will demand accuracy and this film was very inaccurate in a lot of areas. Also, as I said, it bordered on being disrespectful and cartoonish with how it portrayed its characters. Do I think there are some characters like this in the military? Probably, but not many and not the ones we should be focused on. At the same time I loved one of those characters even though he was completely unrealistic.
So there you have it, if you are looking for an accurate war movie, this is not your film. However, if you are looking for a great movie about war, that sums up The Hurt Locker I believe.