The Hurt Locker a fascinating character study

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      Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, and Ralph Fiennes. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, July 17, at the Cinemark Tinseltown

      Just when you thought the summer was going to be all about clanking robots and bachelor-party goofballs, along comes The Hurt Locker. A riveting look at the day-to-day life of a U.S. army bomb-disposal unit stationed in Baghdad, this is the kind of emotionally charged drama that’s traditionally released in the fall. Not that you won’t be grateful to see it now. Although The Hurt Locker earns its stripes as a fascinating character study, it’s essentially a thrilling piece of entertainment.

      Watch the trailer for The Hurt Locker.

      The film is based on a screenplay by journalist Mark Boal—who spent time with a real-life bomb-disposal squad while embedded in Iraq—and one of the best aspects of the story is that it refuses to get bogged down in political rhetoric or, for that matter, any of the well-worn clichés that make up most war movies. One look at our three principal characters and you know you’re not dealing with a happy band of brothers.

      Sgt. J. T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) are two by-the-book members of the bomb squad who just want to make it home in one piece. The delicate equilibrium of their working relationship is disrupted by the arrival of Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner). Personally responsible for dismantling more than 800 bombs, James is a danger junkie with the ego of a rock star. Although he gets results, his cavalier attitude makes Sanborn and Eldridge feel like they’re battling an entirely new kind of threat.

      Director Kathryn Bigelow is especially skilled at investigating the dark corners of various male subcultures. Here, she’s nothing short of masterful at building up layers of testosterone-fuelled suspense. If you’re not perched on the edge of your seat for this one, you simply don’t deserve to see a truly grown-up movie.