The Hurt Locker: Explosive tension

Perhaps it's too early to be talking about Oscars but, at this point, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker absolutely belongs in the mix. There's more tension in this gripping tale than in the waistband of Oprah's skinny jeans, which is pretty freakin' tense.

A bomb-squad thriller about an adrenaline junkie who gets his kicks disarming improvised explosive devices (known in the jargon as IEDs), The Hurt Locker brings it right to the viewer without pandering to him. It's an intense tale of men facing death at any moment, relying on their wits, their will and their skill to get them out alive.

Much already has been made of the fact that this is an expertly made film whose commercial fate is fraught with as much suspense as its action sequences (which will have you chewing your fingernails). It seems cruel to suggest that it might face the same sorry commercial fate as such deserving films as In the Valley of Elah, Mighty Heartand Lions for Lambs, simply because it too is set in the midst of the Iraq war.

Directed by Bigelow from a script by Mark Boal, the film stars Jeremy Renner as Sgt. Will James, who is brought in to head up an Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit after its commander is blown up in a street bombing. The other members of the squad, Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), have a little more than a month left in-country and their first impression of their new commander is an alarming one.

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