Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2008. Voltage Pictures, Grosvenor Park Media, Film Capital Europe Funds, First Light Production, Kingsgate Films, Summit Entertainment. Screenplay by Mark Boal. Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd. Produced by Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro. Music by Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders. Production Design by Karl Júlíusson. Costume Design by George L. Little. Film Editing by Chris Innis, Bob Murawski. Academy Awards 2008. American Film Institute 2009. Boston Film Critics Awards 2009. Golden Globe Awards 2008. Gotham Awards 2009. Independent Spirit Awards 2008. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2009. National Board of Review Awards 2009. New York Film Critics 2009. Toronto International Film Festival 2008. Washington Film Critics Awards 2009.
Tensions mount high from the beginning and stay right up there in this excellent, action-packed drama by Kathryn Bigelow. Three soldiers in Iraq are the focus of the story about bomb experts who are called in to Baghdad to diffuse more than just a political situation whenever suspicious items are spotted by locals. The boys who do this job have to keep their cool under pressure while taking care of business, then later lose it over shots of bourbon as they try to release their grizzly frustration. Jeremy Renner, Brian Geraghty and Anthony Mackie are all excellent, their personal conflicts always simmering below the professional ones that put their lives at risk every day, while Bigelow does an amazing job of making a highly political film that is never overtly political: none of these boys sit around wondering about the senselessness of the war, or question the Bush-era policies that led to them being there in the first place. The film stays in the red zone for two hours, and makes its most impressive commentary without any need to point obvious fingers; that said, the political message is there for the taking.