14 January 2010

Hi, I'm Mike. I was invited to do movie reviews for this blog. I don't know how often this will be but I'll do my best. And I welcome feedback.

Anyway, this film was excellent. It's easily the best war film of the 00's.

Like other great war films, it immediately establishes the tone and atmosphere of its characters and their respective time periods. Full Metal Jacket has the head-shaving de-humanization of its Vietnam-era "grunts," The Big Red One has a black and white sequence with a lone, world-weary Lee Marvin killing a German soldier surrendering at the tail end of World War I, Platoon has its "lamb to the slaughter" imagery of its troops entering the "fuckin' 'Nam!" and The Hurt Locker gives us a POV shot from a robot scouting a bomb in the midst of the Iraq War.

It's a simple but striking sequence and it already tells us so much about the role of the characters in the war and how much combat has changed since Vietnam.

I've always thought Kathryn Bigelow was an underrated director. There really aren't a lot of major women filmmakers to begin with and she's spent the last decade or so in a considerable lull. So it's great to see her knock one out of the park and get the attention she deserves for doing it.

Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie are compelling leads. There was a lot of mention of Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes but make no mistake, the two former actors are the true stars of the movie.

Some of the images, like Renner showering in his uniform and seeing the blood run off it, the soldiers finding a dead child being used as a "body bomb" and a POV shot from inside a Hummer of a soldier being blown up are as compelling and striking as anything seen in Saving Private Ryan or any of the other major war films from the last ten years or, frankly, ever.

Check it out.

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