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Wick's Review

Created Dec 24, 2009 07:05PM PST • Edited May 24, 2020 08:27AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Finally, a USA friendly Iraq War movie, the novelty of which shows how far Hollywood has drifted from objective reality and obvious movie subjects. Wonder of wonders, a show of fellow Americans resolutely and professionally pursuing their liberation mission offers a tremendous adrenaline rush, a flush of patriotic pride and more than a little empathetic emotional resonance. Thank goodness Hollywood finally stumbled upon this verity. The air musta cleared in L.A. Or something.

    Don’t mistake this great Kathryn Bigelow movie for cinéma vérité however. In particular, Jeremy Renner’s Sgt. James goes all Medal of Honor with a touch of death-wish on every mission, making the movie a Hollywoodized version of an otherwise too-tough-to-be-entertaining situation.

    Thus we still await the perfect Iraq War movie. Brothers looks to be another solid contender though not the ultimate winner.

    Given the length and complexity of this war, perhaps no one movie can encapsulate its three phases: the Shock & Awe defeat of Saddam, the Terrible Middle & the Successful Surge.

    The Hurt Locker – set in `04 – at the least stands as the truthie tale of the Terrible Middle.

  3. Great 4.0

    Jeremy Renner’s charismatic action hero gets most of the attention, but Anthony Mackie’s level-headed Sgt. Sanborn grounds the movie, anchoring it to a relatable soul. Mackie’s capable, ethical and professional soldier seems not just accurate, but right and good.

    Renner does play a memorable hot-shit-wild-man, the kind that exists in the mind’s eye of movie makers and war movie fans: more gung ho than sane.

    GI Fucking Joe basically. That’s him in the WikChip. You tell me. WTF, right?

    The solid supporting cast includes big name cameos.

    • Guy Pearce opens the movie in memorable and affecting style. Why isn’t he a superstar?
    • Ralph Fiennes plays a shockingly capable CIA-type. Or would that be MI6-type?
    • David Morse plays a callow Colonel.
    • Evangeline Lilly plays a sympathetic MILF back home.
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Great 4.0

    Kathryn Bigelow’s got some serious stones. Her cleverly constructed film strikes a perfect balance between action, suspense and humanity, a difficult task because the hero is often ensconced in an emotionally distancing blast suit.

    Highlights include SFC1 James’ discovery of a bomb web, shopping for cereal back home, and his jocular relationship with a “base rat.”

    1 SFC = Sergeant First Class

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5

    I’d love to see Kathryn Bigelow direct Angelina Jolie in an action movie. Talk about grrrl power. A picture like that would trigger more woodies than Destiny’s Child at Camp Victory.

  10. Play Great 4.0

    USA Friendlies.” Un-PC in Berkeley & Cambridge, this authentic S2S call sign inadvertently stands as the film’s iconic declaration.

    SFC James’ cinematic derring do triggered nervous tittering in my audience, from me especially. Loved it.

  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.9

    Edge-of-your-seat stuff, quickly and regularly through the movie. Still, the movie is easier to watch than you might guess. Notwithstanding several authentically sad moments, it’s encouragingly upbeat and life affirming.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Brutal 3.5
  17. Rudeness Profane 3.5
  18. Glib 1.3

    The film steers heavily into circumstantial glibness, launching at least one libel at our Army, yet shows our soldiers as generally strong and moral. Imagine that, a Hollywood movie that doesn’t paint members of the US military as saps, losers or psychos.

    Hollywood honchos and coddled critics think that Americans aren’t interested in Iraq War movies.

    Wrong. We’re not interested in self-defeating, self-abasing and self-loathing Iraq War movies.

    Still the Left protests. The American Prospect headlined an article “The Hurt Locker as Propaganda. For a supposedly anti-war film, Kathryn Bigelow’s Hurt Locker serves as a remarkably effective military recruiting tool.” Well, they’re right about that last part. It is a damn effective recruitment film.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.8

    “Definitely Hollywood,” said Iraqi EOD veteran Spc. Mike Wells at the premiere, referring to the over-dramatized plot, according to a Military.com article.

    Explosive Ordinance Disposal has a long and distinguished history in our military. More can be learned about these heroes and their fallen at the EOD Memorial Foundation site. I just paid to have a flag flown over the Memorial, after which they send it to me, a worthy trade even if they kept the flag.

  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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Feb 14, 2010 10:19PM

Regarding Wick’s Review
“Evangeline Lilly plays a sympathetic MILF….” Truer words have never been spoken.

I also think Guy Pearce is a highly underrated actor. He’s been great in tons of movies like “Memento” and “The Proposition”.

Jan 15, 2010 11:57PM

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
“The film starts off as a focus on the events, and then seamlessly transforms into a study of character.” Solid observation Bri.