Tags: Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraght, Brian Geraghty, Christian Camargo, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly, Grace Wang, Guy Pearce, Jeremy Renner, Kathryn Bigelow, Ralph Fiennes, Summit, Summit Entertainment
has an average rating of 8.0 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are in Hi-Def but way too short
– 130 minutes
This uses 35.1GB for the movie out of 41.4GB total.
Overall Verdict – Highly Recommended
The Movie Itself is directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, Near Dark).
— Introduction written by Grace Wang (of “Etheriel Musings“) —
The Hurt Locker, the most recent film by Kathryn Bigelow, takes place in Iraq, in the midst of war. A war that is not foreign, or imaginary, or historic, a war that is going on this very second as I’m typing this. In this age of lightening fast transmissions and instantaneous communication, it’s interesting to note that a war that costs billions of dollars in tax payer money, thousands in human casualty, and momentous changes in the laws that govern the society we live in, barely touches so many of our lives on a daily basis, visibly, at least.
I remember exactly the day I saw it. September 10, 2008. I stumbled out of bed at some ungodly hour, pulled myself together (sort of), and made my way towards Ryerson theater, large americano in hand. The film opened with a bomb, and a team in the process of trying to disarm it – nothing I haven’t seen before in a war film about bombs. I was wary. I waited. And as the minutes passed, I was sucked in, into the world of James, a bomb disposal expert who is so deeply absorbed in the world of bombs and explosions that he barely knows how to function in the human one that he resides in. I was fascinated, by the set up of a bomb squad, which only consists of three members, whose every action is intimately connected to each other’s survival. I was mesmerized, by the palpable tension in every shot, the solidarity of each character that brims each frame. There are so much that are unsaid, but everything is so blatantly in plain view.
I won’t go through the plot, because although it’s interesting and well written, it’s not the highlight of the film. The heart of the piece lies in its characters – James(Jeremy Renner), Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), the Colonel (David Morse), each playing his part in this game of war. It is a game, after all, isn’t it? Troops are sent in as pawns. Traps are set. Destruction is primed. People try to stop it or die trying. All for what? The overall purpose of winning….what exactly? For each of the guys who plays a role in this game of war, their personal purpose, the only one they can try to control, is just to survive today, until tomorrow comes.
It’s easy to like James. He is the hero, saving lives every day. Jeremy Renner plays him with a tenacity that deserves an academy award nomination if not win [EDITOR'S NOTE: Renner has since secured a nomination for his performance in this film]. We see him being firm to the enemy, not brutal. We see him playing heartily with a DVD selling Iraqi kid. We see his leadership, his quiet dignity in a scene where the squad is trapped in the sand, waiting out the enemy under the hot desert sun. Contrast his actions with that of Eldridge, and we see a man’s true color under fire.
In one scene, a Colonel approaches James after he disarms a bomb, high on glee and enthusiasm, asks to shake his hand and the number of bombs that he has disarmed. Upon hearing James’ answer he exclaims loudly that James is a “wild man”. I remember feeling incredulous when I first watched that scene…like I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh at the terrifying sheer joy that the Colonel takes from watching a man who just went to the brink of death and back, or cry at his oblivious ignorance of the underlying cause of James’ “wildness”, so to speak. He is not wild. He just doesn’t know how to be anything else. His whole life has succumbed to the ticking of time and the bid and tide of adrenaline and tension that winds it. Those are the rules that James lives by, the hills he run, the waves that he rides. I don’t think he thinks of himself as “wild”. Wild to me denotes a certain feeling of true freedom, and I think that is a notion as foreign to James as the winter is to the dessert. If anything, it’s a freedom that can only be translated in the lonesomeness of his self and his profession, which no one seems to be able to touch, even after all the armor has been stripped away.
In one particular moment, which I almost missed in the first viewing and only caught the second time around, James watches his son in play, and wonders how he loves so many things so easily. “By the time you get to my age,” He said, “maybe it is only one or two things.” James pauses. “For me I think it’s one.”
The Hurt Locker is a film about war, but it really is a film about the humanity in war, and the struggle between the two. We see a man who loves his country being entrenched so deeply into his role as part of the fabric of war that he no longer knows how to exists outside of it. He is a good man. A strong man. A brave man. But he is also just a shell of a man. A product of the system he serves. His survival depends as much on his ability to disarm the bombs as in their mere existence. What happens when the war ends? When he has to return home to face his child and wife, permanently? Will he know how to relate to his son the joys and sorrows of his life? Will he learn to love more than one thing in his life…again? I hope so.
When I first heard the name “The Hurt Locker”, it immediately conjured up images of a world of pain, and being trapped within. Having now seen the film, I realize that it’s a place locked not from the outside, but from within – a cocoon. We all have our own hurt locker…you know, that dark, comfortable place that you go to, that space you sink into, a secret garden of your pain and sorrow and regret and guilt, growing into a forest too dense for anyone else to forge into. It is a cocoon of pain. But it’s also a familiar pain – you know how it feels, how it moves, how it molds, and it is yours, and no one else’s. And when the world can explode at any moment, being inside the vortex, inside the hurt locker, is maybe not so bad.
You are the sleeping beauty, and outside is just the functional façade that faces this cold, cold world.
Inside, it’s warm.
Video Quality on this release is 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-25‘s (25 gigabyte Blu-ray Disc) presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
In keeping with the film’s gritty, realistic tone, the cinematography and the resulting image are undoubtedly, decidedly and appropriately realistic, evoking a documentary-style while never compromising artistic grace and perfection. I’m pleased to report that this Blu-ray disc offers a stunning reproduction of the theatrical experience, and that it is essentially flawless in its representation of the original material. Grain is ever-present and its structure appears to be preserved and not supressed. Black levels are quite good. Fine object detail is impressive whenever the camera pushes in close, and there doesn’t seem to be a trace of either edge enhancement artifacts or digital noise reduction related artifacts. Simply put, this is the absolute best the film might ever look. Even still, those viewers that only seek out the most pristine and glossy presentations will likely find “fault” with this film’s presentation. I say that because the cinematographer was more concerned with realism and creating a kinetic picture than he was with making the film look picturesque, and yet, he managed to do so anyway. In other words, this film boasts some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in a long while. It’s not overly frenetic, and the camera movement and shot choices never seem forced — they only end up drawing you in closer to the characters, the action and the tension.
Seen here on Blu-ray, I’m reminded again why I loved this film so much in theaters, and why it makes for an easy Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography. It’s positively stunning. If you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly suggest you pick this up in time for the Oscars. Otherwise, you won’t know what you’re missing.
All in all though, while this disc offers an extremely faithful presentation, I don’t believe it’s perfect either. I don’t think it’s the fault of the encode, mind you, but at the same time the level of clarity isn’t quite up to par with the best Blu-rays on the market. Nonetheless, fans of the film will be MORE than pleased with what they’re given. As such, this disc receives a remarkable “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio.
Prepare to be blown away. The Hurt Locker boasts one of the most explosive, realistic and frightening audio presentations to date. In most films, you simply hear the explosions; here you FEEL the explosions. In other words, if you’re not floored by this mix, you might need to consider upgrading your standalone subwoofer (or adding one if you don’t have one already… shameful buggers). The gun shots, hovering helicopters, jet flybys and just about every single war-time sound effect in the film is rendered to a level of clarity and presented with such profound, and staggering realism that you can forget that you’re sitting in your living room watching a movie. This isn’t an action movie — this is war.
Whether it’s the hyper-slow-motion explosion of an IED (improvised explosive device), the resounding report of an AK-47 in a city street, or the single concussive blow of a 50-Caliber Barrett rifle, this track has the power to move you deeply, and scare you to the core. This combined with the encapsulating cinematography amounts to a wholly immersive experience that few films ever manage to achieve. I, for one have never heard a 50-Caliber rifle being fired, nor have I heard an explosion, so I have no frame of reference outside of films or video games, but even still, there’s a part of me that says that these sounds are as close to real as they get — whether or not they’re sweetened in post-production or not — and even if they aren’t, the sound mixing/record/mastering team on this film did a damn fine job convincing me otherwise. Lastly, all dialog, music elements, and ambient sound effects are dealt with pinpoint accuracy and excellent fidelity — but this is all just icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.
When all is said and done, this film has sky-rocketed up into my top-five demo discs of all time, so naturally it would be a crime to give this film anything less than the perfect score that it deserves. “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.
Bonus Materials are presented in 1080p Hi-Def (HD) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- Commentary by Director Kathryn Bigelow and Writer Mark Boal
- “The Hurt Locker: Behind the Scenes” (12:36) – A wonderful, but all-too-short behind the scenes featurette — in actuality it is referred to as an EPK (electronic press kit) in the credits. It’s sad that this is the only supplied feature (aside from the commentary) but I’m glad we got something to sink our teeth into, just wish that it was a bit meatier. Perhaps we’ll have to wait until an anniversary (or Oscar Edition) double dip.
Overall, we get a pretty bare bones release, special feature-wise, but the commentary is quite good and the EPK will whet most peoples appetites. Here’s to hoping that Summit rolls out the red carpet for a double dip edition of this film if it takes any or all of the Academy Awards it’s nominated for.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.