Man there was a lot about The Hurt Locker that I had forgotten about since it came out almost a dozen years ago. I forgot about there being three notable members of the MCU, I forgot some of the visual style and tension that absorbed so much of it. But what I forgot about bore itself out as I was watching it again for the first time since I think it hit video shelves.
Mark Boal (Detroit) wrote a script that Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) directed. In it, we see a bomb squad in Iraq, specifically a hotshot rules flauting disposal expert (Jeremy Renner, Captain America Civil War), the section chief (Anthony Mackie, Captain America Winter Soldier) and the driver (Brian Geraghty, Flight) as they go through the final weeks of their tour in Iraq before rotating stateside.
Going from rough memory at the time, but it seemed like people enjoyed The Hurt Locker for its tension in battle and perhaps a little bit of cynicism, the latter being similar to that which Jarhead managed to convey, albeit more effectively and in a different phase of the Iraq War. It also handles the adrenaline-fueled rush of bomb/IED diffusing in Renner's character pretty well, even as he's back stateside and with his son and his wife (Evangeline Lilly, Ant-Man). Renner's character shoving his emotions down when his platoon-mates and family may want otherwise is a somewhat compelling watch, and Renner handles this part of his character well.
But from a former Army nerd's perspective, the things that occur in the second and third acts of this film are a pretty huge leap of credibility for a viewer to make. You see films that get Defense Department acknowledgement and cooperation in their production and others that don't, and you see the difference in production value and story quality to a degree. I'm not saying that The Hurt Locker should have sought this out, but I am saying the film probably wanted to have its cake and eat it too when it came to the story, and I think some of the choices its characters make in the film show this.
This isn't to say that the film is ruined or anything, Mackie's near-monologue in the third act is heart wrenching and the best thing that happens onscreen, Geraghty is a quality supporting performance and for the most part most of what occurs in the film feels authentic and the viewer can get drawn into it. It just emerges from this shell to do more when it didn't need to, and cheapened itself as a result.
None of this is to say that The Hurt Locker is a bad film, it is just one that has not aged well, and I say this knowing that it won a half dozen Oscars. It is a okay film, but given that Bigelow came back to direct a much better war film four years later for Zero, you get the impression from The Hurt Locker that people liked it because it was the first, not because it was the best.The UHD/4K Video:
Similar to another recent release from its catalog (The Limey), Lionsgate has opted to go for a digital-only version of The Hurt Locker. As an Apple nerd, I redeemed my code before the official release date of the 4K and saw some of the movie for reacquainting purposes until about a week before the 4K release which was made available for this writing. But it looks pretty darned good, with dust caking on the faces of the troops, visual effects showing individual sand grains and facial textures where the crags are deep as you would like. Colors look fine and it retains the grit from past video versions/director's intent, and looks fantastic on 4K.The Sound:
Dolby Atmos for this puppy which is also pretty superb. The bomb in the opening minutes of the movie punches a whole in you with the subwoofer and the occasional firefights include channel panning and directional effects with gunfire and ricochets. Dialogue and music sounds clear and consistent as can be and the larger battle scenes bring a well-rounded, dynamic atmosphere to the table. An excellent soundtrack by all means.Extras:
The only extra is the same as the last, a making of on the film (12:32) which shows what Bigelow wanted to do, putting the story together and the cast's thoughts on the script and characters therein. Shot setup and visual effects supervision is also given some time in coverage and it's a nice piece, though only less than 15 minutes. So yeah!Final Thoughts:
The Hurt Locker looks more polished in 4K which is nice, but you also remember some things about it that make you shudder and feel a little trite now that familiarity is under your wings. Technically it looks good and sounds even better, and the supplements remain bland. If you haven't seen it, feel free to check it out, but you're better off with Bigelow's much better contribution to this period and genre.