Droid defines the Decades best movies – #16 The Hurt Locker (2009)

poster_hurt_lockerA few years ago there were a rush of films based around the war in Iraq. Most of these were ineffective, because they came saddled with a heavy handed agenda. It’s become fashionable to criticize American involvement in the war, and whatever your opinion, patronising leftist brow beating from the likes of Paul Haggis is not a message I care about. The payoff of ‘In The Valley of Elah’, with the upside down flag (which I rolled my eyes at the clumsy setup of in the first 15 minutes of the film), is one of the greatest single annoyances of recent cinema. ‘The Hurt Locker’ is a different beast. It’s neither for or against the war. It’s about the nature of the men who fight it. The story it tells is not about pointing fingers or laying blame, it’s about three men in a bomb disposal unit, each with their own approach to survival.

“The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” 

                                – Chris Hedges

The Hurt Locker 6Sergeant James (Jeremy Renner) is the replacement team leader of a Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit. It’s his one love. It’s what he’s good at. Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Sergeant Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) are his unit, providing cover and intelligence for their leader. Sanborn is a by the book soldier, trusting in his training and adherence to procedure to get him home alive. Eldridge is out of his depth, and conflicted about the realities of the war, where it’s often necessary to shoot first and ask questions later. He’s just hoping to stay safe until his rotation. But James loves the thrill of diffusing bombs, and sometimes ignores  proper procedure which puts him and his unit in dangerous situations. As they navigate their remaining 38 days before rotation, each man’s nerve is tested.

The Hurt Locker 1 Kathryn Bigelow is one of the best action directors there is. Here she ramps up the tension, paces the film perfectly and makes a classic modern war film. She’s not interested in taking sides, she’s interested in what makes these guys tick, why they do what they do, putting themselves in harms way every day. Thinking back on the first time I saw it, I remembered it to be action packed. But upon rewatching it, there is actually very little action. The film is punctuated by set pieces, with Bigelow slowly building the tension in each scene. And she takes her time, allowing the scene to unfold, heightening our expectation and the tension in the process.

The Hurt Locker 8 Written by Mark Boal, based on his experiences as a freelance journalist with a bomb squad in Iraq, the film feels completely authentic. Characters actions seem realistic, even the thrill-seeking James. Why he does it, we can only hypothesise. When asked how he puts himself in harms way when he has a wife and son at home, he replies “I just don’t think about it.” Renner is terrific in the role. The conversation he has with his son towards the end of the film, is a perfect summation of his character. He’s found the one thing he’s good at, the one thing he loves, and that’s  all he wants to do. This single talent is emphasised by his failed attempt to find the killer of a young Iraqi boy, who he had befriended on the base, or the scene where he takes his unit into the streets to track down some insurgents.

The Hurt Locker 9Bigelow and Boal are combining again on ‘Triple Frontier’, an action film based in the South American region where the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina converge. And that film is up there with my most anticipated. ‘The Hurt Locker’ is an example of the kind of intelligent action film that seems only to be made outside the studio system. It cost $9 million to make this film. By that rationale, we could have one giant, colossal piece of garbage like Transformers 2, or twenty two films like this. Tough choice.


#17 – Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

#18 – Kingdom of Heaven (2005) Directors Cut

#19 – High Fidelity (2000)

#20 – Friday Night Lights (2004)

#21 – Frequency (2000)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

112 responses to “Droid defines the Decades best movies – #16 The Hurt Locker (2009)”

  1. Jarv says :

    I never got round to seeing this for some reason.

  2. xiphos0311 says :

    the film feels completely authentic.

    No it doesn’t not in the least bit.

  3. koutchboom says :

    hahahah just brought this up in the Rec room…should’ve known you liked it this much Droid. Defending gerbil boy to the death. Here is what I put:

    I watched Blown Away this weekend, and after seeing that there really is no reason why The Hurt Locker should be getting all this attention. Don’t get me wrong, its a damn good flick, but seriously, had the thing come out in the 90s no one would’ve said shit about it, it may have been a box office success then as well.

    Jeff Bridges plays pretty much the same guy in Blown Away that Renner plays. Just no body runs to a bomb in slo mo like Jeff fucking Bridges…NO ONE. And he didn’t get Oscar buzz for that movie. And it holds up mad good.

    • Droid says :

      The difference between the two is that Blown Away is idiotic, while THL isn’t.

      And there are no bombs set up to explode once a ball bearing completes it’s trip around Mouse Trap.

      • Jarv says :

        I like Mouse Trap. Well, I did when I was a kid. It’s a great board game.

        I do not like Blown Away

      • koutchboom says :

        Blown Away isn’t idiotic, its just a good thriller about bombs, just like THL.

        Plus Bridges and Renner play the same guy.

      • koutchboom says :

        Dude you just said you liked Speed. I don’t see you can like Speed and not like Blown Away. They are both good bomb mad men thrillers. Also they were in the theater at the same time? Like exact same month, not just year or anything. You could literally pay for one and theater hop into the other.

      • Jarv says :

        Speed is stupid and entertaining. It doesn’t have a terrible villain.

        Although to be fair, I should probably rewatch Blown Away.

      • koutchboom says :

        Tommy Lee wasn’t terrible, just his accent was off. Like they almost are the same movie. And Bridges is a lot better then Neo.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah rewatch Blown Away, i think your just remembering it wrong. Its damn good, and the bomb effects are awesome. There is a little cheesyness to the green screen on the last one, but its really not that bad. The movie really held up.

      • Droid says :

        Speed is awesome. I can understand your comparison, but fuck me are they completely different. Speed is thoroughly entertaining. Blown Away, not so much.

      • Jarv says :

        He was awful. Really bad performance, and he’s usually never bad.

        I don’t know. The sheer stupidity of Speed probably elevates it above. I remember at the time Empire (spits on floor) totalled up the damage caused by Keanu in Speed and it was something like $197,000,000.

        Speed 2: This time we negotiate.

      • koutchboom says :

        No way, go back and watch it. How is their no comparison????

        A bad guy sets up bombs to make a policemen jump through hoops? Sure Speed is about ONE bomb, but still.

        I think Blown Away gets shitted on because it came out TWO weeks after Speed so i bet back then everyone called it a rip off.

      • koutchboom says :

        Tommy Lee isn’t as bad as you think. Its just seeing Tommy Lee with an accent is whats off putting.

      • Jarv says :

        Well, next time it’s on TV, I’ll rewatch it.

        Can’t say fairer than that.

      • koutchboom says :

        You’ll be surprised. Also look out for the Cuba cameo!

      • Jarv says :

        Talking about Cameos- Evil Bong is a Charles Band “greatest hits” and has a completely pointless Cameo from Tim Thomerson as Trooper Deth.

        And the Gingerdead Man

        And the Demonic Toys,

        And the puppet things,

        and (I was impressed by this) the specialised joke bras that Full Moon made.

      • Droid says :

        Speaking of cameos, THL has a bunch of them.

      • Jarv says :

        I think cameos are really hard to pull off- the best ever has to be The Blues Brothers.

      • koutchboom says :

        Crank 2 had a bunch of fun C-level celeberties. Including that chick from Dumb and Dumber (yeah I know, I thought she was dead too!). Ginger Spice, Ron Jeremy, the dude from Linkin Park, The INXS copycat and more!

      • Jarv says :

        Worst cameo of all time: John Cleese in Harry Potter.

        Fuck me that was awful.

      • Droid says :

        The worst flick for cameos recently is The Invention of Lying. It has a bunch of random cameos from very famous actors for no real reason. They’re just in it. I think I said this in the review, but it’s like they missed out on being in Extras so Gervais put them in his movie.

      • Droid says :

        Who was Cleese in Potter? Which one?

      • Jarv says :

        First one. He’s “nearly headless Nick” and the whole thing is “Hi I’m John Cleese and this is me being zany in harry potter”

        Invention of lying is cinematic beige.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah someone get a memo too Gervais and tell him to fuck off in movies. Unless he gets around his ugly guy issue and stops trying to make rom-coms. Maybe if he made a balls out funny movie instead of trying to make himself the next Billy Crystal or something.

      • Lord Bronco says :

        yeah as I recall, Blown away was like the movie that made those two dudes take a sabbatical from acting for say, oh i don’t know…10 years.
        Similar to Harrison ford in air Force One as the “ass-kicking president”.
        That’s how good of a movie Blown Away was…
        Blown Away Acting careers maybe would have been a better title.

  4. Droid says :

    It’s true. Action flicks these days are made like a porno cumshot montage. We like a little foreplay before the payoff.

    • Jarv says :

      That’s because we’re all old miserable cunts now.

      Them MTV kids love cumshot montage explosions.

    • Droid says :

      It’s the interwebs fault. I remember the days when I had to play the computer in poker just to see a nudie pic. The anticipation was killing me! Now a kid can just google “wank” and get to see anything they want. Even Captain America!

    • Jarv says :

      TO be fair, if I was looking for Porn and the internets threw out Captain America, I would be very fucking disappointed.

      On a different note, I’ve got a review of Gladiator Cop with no pictures in drafts- I’ve got shots at home.

      Shall I publish it anyway then update tomorrow or save it until then?

    • Droid says :

      I reckon save it for tomorrow because that way we can guarantee content. We’ve had a few posts today, so we should even it out. But it’s up to you.

  5. Jarv says :

    Yeah, I’ll save it. I think I need to reread the review anyhow.

  6. koutchboom says :

    Gingerdead Man. How bad is that? Fun bad? or just bad bad?

    • Jarv says :

      I’ve never seen it, but looking at him, I think it will be hilarious.

      Also, if Band directed it, then chances are it will be good- he’s a B-Movie genius,

  7. Bartleby says :

    gingerdead man actually sucks kind of awful….it’s not really all that much fun.

  8. koutchboom says :

    Yeah speaking of cameos…what the fuck happened to Guy Pirces career? Seriously, can’t he fucking get a 3rd/4th down role in the next Batman or something? I’m bettin that after I see Inception I’ll wish that I just saw the same movie starring Guy instead.

    • Droid says :

      Yeah, i like Guy Pearce a lot. He was fucking awesome in LA Confidential. Memento as well. The moment I saw him in that recent Adam Sandler piece of shit I felt really bad for the guy.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah he’s got another fucking cameo in The Road to, thats about as long as his role in this.

      • Bartleby says :

        rent First Snow to see some more Guy Pearce. It’s no classic, but it’s not too bad.

      • koutchboom says :

        Well I don’t need Guy that much that I have to watch shitty films.

        Did you ever see My Slipping Down Life? I’m just saying, you think after Memento you would’ve seen him in a bunch of shit. And I don’t think he over exposed himself.

      • Droid says :

        Pearce would be good Batman villian. Someone like the Riddler.

      • koutchboom says :

        He would’ve been good as the joker as well….

      • Bartleby says :

        First Snow wasn’t a shitty film at all. I just know you better than to rave about something. You do better when you go in with no expectations.

  9. Bartleby says :

    and my Hurt Locker review, where we had the first Xi vs. The Hurt Locker showdown…

    • koutchboom says :

      Bart, Blown Away…thoughts?

      • Bartleby says :

        no relation AT ALL to The Hurt Locker, unless you count the fact both have people defusing bombs. This would make Class of 1984 and Cluless similar because the characters go to high school in both movies.

        As for Speed vs. Blown Away, I recall thinking there were very similar in theme when they were released, and the trailers for Blown Away looked better than Speed to me. Good things about BA:

        cool final sequence where Bridges is hanging off the front of a car careening towards a fire-works demo or something–I haven’t seen it since 94.

        good cinematography and a good role for Bridges.

        nice “look inside the bomb” sequences displaying how each device was hooked up.

        a decent soundtrack

        Tommy Lee Jones
        moved really slowly through about 2/3rds of the film’s events.

        started repeating itself at the hour mark.

        Tommy Lee Jones

        the script was really by the numbers and there were literally no surprises anywhere.

        On the other hand, I’d say Speed was fun at least once.

        I have no ill will towards either movie, and I’d like to say BA was better, but in truth it just wasn’t.

      • koutchboom says :

        the relation to THL, that its a guy who diffuses bombs and DOESN’T FOLLOW THE RULES!…thats a big similarity. Plus he can’t NOT diffuse bombs thats what he wants to do.

    • koutchboom says :

      Also bart, unreleated. But i just found something fucking odd about The Road. You know that shot with the destroyed boats? I thought it looked hella CGI’ed, but they fucking actually got some destroyed ass big boats and shot that scene. Its wired I can’t find a picture of it, I saw it in some magazine this weekend.

      But I did find this picture:

    • koutchboom says :

      Dude Bart, who is that in THL poster on your site? Was Luke Perry in the movie?

  10. Jarv says :

    Off home. See you later.

  11. Droid says :

    Xi, reading your comments over at Jonahs site on THL, I think you misunderstand how they portray the role of the unit. They are a specialist unit called in when the larger company locate a bomb. They don’t wander around by themselves looking for bombs willy nilly. They’re a unit, part of the larger Bravo Company.

    The James character is the leader of that specific unit. He is a “cowboy”, but it’s in specific situations. It’s more that he is willing to take the risk to get the job done.

    How it is portrayed may not be realistic in the grand scheme of things, but it feels authentic to the character.

  12. koutchboom says :

    Hmmm Guy Pearce was in Traitor, that also stars Don Cheedle so I naturally skipped it. But it looked like it could be ok.

  13. koutchboom says :

    I just read Eberts Review of Speed from June 10, 1994.

    Here is a quote:

    Can a bus really leap a 50-foot space? This is the kind of movie where you don’t ask questions like that.

    And his review of Blown Away from July 1, 1994.

    Here is a quote:

    How does Jones have enough time to rig such intricate and labyrinthine schemes? What does he really want to do? Get revenge, or win the Westinghouse Science Search?

    Yeah Blown Away got fucked by Speed. Its just funny how in the reviews Ebert laughs off all the shit in Speed as funny, but for Blown Away questions ALL of it.

    Sure I think Speed is probably better (mainly because its a little faster paced), but both movies are good. You probably couldn’t ask for better movies that are this similar.

    • Bartleby says :

      it was the tone of the two movies Koutch…

      the tone of Blown Away was like it was made for adults, while Speed was your friday night action movie. They feel completely different in the way they are handled. I liked the basic approach to Blown Away, but it’s not a ‘roller coaster’ pic, it’s trying to be an intelligent thriller and when it takes on that mantle, and then gets as goofy as Speed, people took notice. Besides, it really got buried because it was sandwiched in there with Speed and True Lies in the same summer and then later there was In Clear and Present Danger. I like TL the best of those three, but then again Im the guy who thinks The Shadow was probably the best summer movie of that year.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah Shawdow came out the same weekend as Blown Away. Thats what I’m saying Blown Away came out THREE weeks after Speed. So it got fucked because everyone probably thought it was just the same movie.

        June 10, 1994 – Speed
        July 1, 1994 – The Shawdow/Blown Away
        July 15, 1994 – True Lies

        I need to go back and watch True Lies again I’ve seen parts and found them terribly cheesy, but i saw the Shawdow recently and its an amazingly good looking movie, so is Blown Away. I bet if you watch them all again now you’d come out with The Shawdow and Blown Away on top.

        Speed and Blown Away both feel very similar. Just Speed has a little faster pace with no stopping. They both open the same way.

  14. koutchboom says :

    Yeah Speed comes off more as a Die Hard rip off more then anything.

  15. koutchboom says :

    Hahahah in watching the two Trailers, fucking Die Hard 3: Die Hard With a Vengeance trailer RIPS off the Blown Away trailer!

  16. Droid says :

    The Shadow is great.

    Speed is, as Frankie would say, goofaction.

    Blown Away isn’t terrible, it’s just not very good. You can compare it to anything you want, but it doesn’t change that. When it was released has no real meaning anymore, because you rate the flick, not the release date.

    True Lies is cheesy because it’s a deliberately silly action comedy. It’s virtually a spoof. And it’s awesome.

    • Bartleby says :

      I agree exactly with everything Droid said above. I don’t know what that means, but it can’t be a good thing.

    • koutchboom says :

      Seriously, everyone go out and rent Blown Away again this weekend. Its a fucking awesome movie.

      And thats sort of what I’ve been saying all this while, thats what sad about The Hurt Locker. We are SOOOO fucking desperate for good adult thrillers and movies that ONE comes along and we jump all over it. Fucking Ebert called it the second best movie of the decade.

      WHEN LOOK AT 94! 4 fucking awesome adult movies and good thrillers. We are such need of good movies like that these days we really don’t know what to do anymore when one comes around.

    • koutchboom says :

      And thats Bullshit about the release date. HOW different would’ve things turned out had Blown Away come out first? The fact that they came out SOOO fucking close to each other is sort of a big deal. One became a huge mega hit and the other became sort of a nothing movie.

      • Droid says :

        HOW different would’ve things turned out had Blown Away come out first?

        It’s inconsequential. My opinion of either movie is not based on their success. It’s based on whether or not I think it’s a good flick. It just happens that I think the successful one is good, and the unsuccessful one is not.

        Yeah, we are desperate for quality movies. THL is a quality movie. Not 2nd best of the decade though. 16th.

      • koutchboom says :

        hahahahaha. Eberts list fucking blows anyway. Thats probably one of the only respectable picks on there. Dudes totally lost his jaw.

    • Droid says :

      I watched The Shadow earlier last year for the first time in ages. It holds up. One thing I never really understood is why they had to plaster Baldwins face with prosthetics.

      One flick I haven’t seen in at least 15 years is Dick Tracy. I remember it being a bit shit. Anyone seen it recently?

  17. Lord Bronco says :

    Guys=K-boom has been yacking all day over at AIBN about Blown away-and we let him know what’s what…Speed? over here he’s going on about SPEED? *sighs*

    It’s like saying the Battle for Tera was better than Avatar, or some similarly ridiculous postulation…

    • Lord Bronco says :

      Ralph Baski’s Hobbit was better than PJS LOTR

      • koutchboom says :

        Never said Battle for Terra was better then Avatar, just the score was. Which…isn’t that hard.

      • Jarv says :

        The Score from Avatar is mediocre and (like the design) cribbed from Cameron’s other films, notably Titanic and Aliens.

        Still don’t care though.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah the score didn’t bother me really, even the overuse of the death trumpet. But just for the fact that exoctic whalling bitch has been done to fucking death. Sad fact is, this is the first time I’ve ever felt that it made sense. The use of it in Gladiator/Troy/Kingdom of Heaven just felt out of place for me. Here it made sense, but since I’ve heard it a billion times just kind of stupid by now, I guess Cameron swore off music these past 12 years.

        Plus the main theme of the music is a riff off of My Heart Will Go On…maybe thats the secert to its success? The fucking music! Maybe Horner isn’t so much a composer as he is a musical scientist. Lets face it, the dude is pretty bland, so maybe he’s trying to perfect a sound that makes you like things?

  18. Tom_Bando says :

    I seriously wanna see this one.

  19. Tom_Bando says :

    Disliked Blown Away, quite disapointed. Am a fan of both Bridges and Tommy Lee, but–it just Didn’t ring true not even for the duration of the movie.

    I liked Speed and it’s still pretty fun.

    Never sat thru the Specialist, how was That?

    • Jarv says :


      Boring, stupid, and crap.

      • koutchboom says :

        You’ll eat those words when you watch it again.

      • Jarv says :

        Not Blown Away- you plum- The Specialist.

      • koutchboom says :

        yeah for some reason I didn’t think you were talking about Blown Away, but the nerd rage got the best of me and I couldn’t control it.

        Wow though. That would be a trilogy of films. The Hurt Locker/Blown Away/The Specialist.

      • Jarv says :

        With the Specialist holding the deeply disappointing and very shit Return of The King type third film role?

      • Droid says :

        That’s like watching a trilogy of Alien/Alien 4/AvP.

        Great start, but quickly descends into garbage.

      • Jarv says :

        Or Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Die Hard 4.0

        This is fun- there’s loads of them that we can do with this.

      • koutchboom says :

        Conan, True Lies, Collteral Damage.

      • Droid says :

        Better would be THL/DH3/Backdraft.

        Okay, Backdraft doesn’t exactly have anything to do with bombs, but fuck me do I love that flick.

      • Jarv says :

        I’m trying to think of a third film with bombs in it now that doesn’t suck.

      • Droid says :

        The Descent, The Cave, Centipede!

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah that was my initial thought, I couldn’t think of many films about bombs….Chill Factor?

      • koutchboom says :

        Chill Factor would be good actually because Cuba’s got a cameo in Blown Away.

      • Droid says :

        Chill Factor! HA! That movie was hilarious. A speed rip off, but the bus is a fucking ice cream truck or some shit.

        Poor old Skeet Ulrich. The “next Johnny Depp” was in Armored looking like a fucking wino.

      • Jarv says :

        Centipede is much better than The Cave

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah there is a funny Family Guy joke about Skeet Shooting on a cruise.

      • Droid says :

        Well I haven’t seen Centipede, and I barely remember The Cave.

      • Jarv says :

        The Cave is fucking pants.

        It’s terrible, terrible shite.

      • koutchboom says :


      • Droid says :

        Was The Cave a monster movie? Or was it just people getting stuck in a cave? I seriously cannot remember it. I’m beginning to think I haven’t even seen it, and I’m using the trailer as the basis for tricking my brain into believing I’ve seen it.

      • Jarv says :

        I hesitate to say, because it was so terrible. It was sort of a monster movie, and sort of douchebags stuck in a cave.

        The monster (laughably) was some sort of parasite thing that infected humans and there were sort of shit gargoyle-type efforts in it as well.

        Cole Hauser was reasonably amusing, there was nothing resembling characterisation or tension and the film had the shittest Armageddon ending that I’ve seen in a long time.

        Utterly atrocious. 0 fucking Changs. (Bear in mind that I just gave the dumb as a sack of rocks Gladiator Cop 3 Changs).

      • Droid says :

        Here’s a question for you then…

        Would you like it better if it were called…

        Gargoyle Speleologist!

      • Droid says :

        I always get Cole Hauser mixed up with Thomas Jane.

      • koutchboom says :

        ????? Now Thomas Jane and aaron eckhart I understand. But Cole is a ginger.

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, I’m not sure why. They do kinda look the same and also sound the same too. It’s more that I keep thinking Thomas Jane was in a movie (like The Cave) but it was really Cole Hauser.

      • Jarv says :

        No. It would still be shit.

        Throw in a few midgets, someone that can hold the camera still and gratuitous nakedness, and now we’re talking.

  20. jarv says :

    Dick tracy was on tv over xmas. It’s still shit

  21. ThereWolf says :

    Good review, Droid. ‘Hurt Locker’ has been on my ‘To See’ list for yonks. I’ll probably get the blu-ray.

    I think Renner could be big – if he gets some more decent roles. I thought he was good in ’28 Weeks Later’ – one of the few plusses.

  22. koutchboom says :

    You know looking at that poster again, and thinking about the poster with Luke Perry…….who the fuck was in charge of promoting this thing? They had no idea, the trailer is fucking awesome though.

  23. Chipps says :

    I generally liked this film. the scene with the mercenaries (ralph fines) was pretty shit though. other than that i thought the movie was quite good. in fact the more i think about that scene the crazyier it was.
    1)guy gets shot – another guy replaces him on the same weapon on the same spot – suicide
    2)guy cant hit stationary target, but CAN hit same target moving rapidly.
    3)a character inexplicably goes missing

    there’s more, its not worth it. otherwise i thought it was a good movie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: