Monday, 15 March 2010


Kathryn Bigelow first came to my attention by way of NEAR DARK: a modern day interpretation of things that go bite in the night that - for me- is right up there with other genre heavyweights from Ferrara, Romero and Jordan.
Since then, she's moved onto far more populist areas of cinema, en route to the ultimate accolade for any director.

Set in Iraq, THE HURT LOCKER centres on bomb disposal in one of the most dangerous places on earth, with Bravo Company facing one more month in their tour of duty.
William James (Jeremy Renner) arrives to replace a colleague he never knew,who died attempting to diffuse an explosive device. James quickly demonstrates his ability and courage, whilst also exhibiting a reckless spirit that may well put more than his own life at risk.

Of course, just about every Oscar success story has its own band of detractors and while Bigelow's film has received much critical acclaim, there have been a good number of pointed fingers signaling this film is over-hyped and delivers a disappointing ending.
For me, THE HURT LOCKER is absolutely solid on the acting front, and beautifully paced with nerve-shredding situations punctuating the comaderie and tensions that exist between the troops: just like the hell hole it depicts, an attack can come at any time in Bigelow's film and careful deployment of the savage fire of conflict or the carnage caused by explosions make them hit home all the harder. As far as the ending is concerned, all the information you need has played out in the preceding 2 hours and makes perfect sense.

Having reluctantly missed this film during its theatrical run, I plumped for a rental copy of the UK Blu-ray release, and found the transfer to be first-rate. Skin tones are realistic, there's bags of detail in the night-time scenes, while colours pop when they should. In fact there's little or nothing to criticise here, but the same cannot be said for the paucity of additional material. One would hope that a more loaded special edition will surface in the not-too-distant future, and I'm sure that will indeed be the case.


  1. I love this film too. The only weak point for me is the subplot involving James' obsession with the people involved with the boy selling DVDs. I felt that Bigelow and Boal had already est. James' loose cannon credentials early on and really didn't need to slam the point home with this extraneous subplot. That being said, it is a testimony to how good the film is that this subplot is only a minor distraction and does little to take away from how great the film is.

    Excellent review!

  2. It is a great film, and I hope it does better on disc then it did in the theaters. And I'm very glad Bigelow was recognized for her work with the DGA and Director Oscar. Good review and examination in your post, Steve. And NEAR DARK is one of those great gems I try to steer people to (especially the younger crowd in love their current vampire books/movies). I dare say that THL may work better on the DVD/BD in that the shaky cam technique that's prominent is less prone to give viewers (like me) motion sickness. When I took this in at the theater (like THE KINGDOM), I was turning a bad shade of green during it. Thanks, Steve.

  3. Thanks, JD. Excellent point re 'Beckham', the dodgy DVD dealer. Bigelow and Boal may possibly have included this plot strand to tie in with James' son at home. For James, war made him go the extra mile and he perhaps felt that helping the boy partially erased the guilt associated with not being there for his own son. Overall, I think you're probably right. Good call.

    Thanks, Michael.
    It is a great film, and I was so pleased that Bigelow won.
    Good to encounter another fan of NEAR DARK. At times, it's wonderfully poetic and contains one of my all-time favourite lines of dialogue.
    It's perhaps as well I didn't see THL at the cinema, with my own problem of Menier's Disease.
    It does look wonderful on Blu, and I'm sure it will work better for you at home.
    Thanks again, guys.

  4. Yeah, NEAR DARK is a keeper. Probably still my fave Bigelow film, just edging out POINT BREAK. Alto, I am partial to STRANGE DAYS despite the illogical ending.

  5. A solid choice-maybe not an unusual one-but hard to criticize.

  6. Thanks, JD. Strange Days is a favourite of mine, too. Need to see Point Break again as I wasn't too keen on my first and only viewing.

    Cheers, Patti. Still haven't seen Avatar, but The Hurt Locker has justifiably garnered much praise outside The Oscars. Wonder how the likes of The White Ribbon, A Prophet and Let The Right One In would have fared outside of their 'ghetto' category?

  7. Let the Right One In would have been my fav.

  8. Same goes for me, Patti. Absolutely stunning.