DVD Review: Amazing ‘The Hurt Locker’ Should Rock on Home Market

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CHICAGO – The most critically acclaimed film of the year, Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” is finally available on DVD and Blu-ray. The war movie made a measly $13 million in theaters, a number that has been thrown around several times as to why the film won’t win the Oscar for Best Picture. Millions of viewers will catch up to this modern masterpiece on DVD and Blu-ray and regret not having experienced it in theaters.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 4.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 4.5/5.0

You don’t just have to take my word for it. The film has not only appeared on dozens of top tens for 2009 but also on a few lists for the best works of the decade. Roger Ebert named it the 2nd best film of the last ten years. The Chicago Film Critics Association awarded the movie an amazing five awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Jeremy Renner), Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow), Best Original Screenplay (Mark Boal), and Best Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd).

They are all categories for which the film will almost certainly be nominated for the Oscars (and probably a few more). It’s one of the most awarded films of 2009 and the only movie that I suspect could conceivably stop it from winning Best Picture is “Avatar”. Based on that film’s gross, you’ve probably seen “Avatar”. Do yourself a favor and catch up on DVD or Blu-ray with that film’s best competition for the Academy Award.

(Left to right) Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie star in The Hurt Locker.
Photo credit: Jonathan Olley

An interesting story at this year’s Oscars is going to be the ex-spouse battle in the Best Director category between James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow. For me, there’s no competition and Bigelow should become the first female director to ever win the Oscar. She builds and releases tension in “The Hurt Locker” better than her peers have in years, taking viewers to the other side of the world to bring into relatable a daily grind that most of us couldn’t even imagine.

The leads in “The Hurt Locker” are soldiers in Iraq who diffuse bombs for a living, often in range of sniper fire and often with materials and equipment tragically unable to protect them should something go wrong. “The Hurt Locker” opens with the tension turned up to eleven. After a shocking death, Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) joins an expert group of bomb-diffusing soldiers in Iraq 38 days before their company is going to leave the country. The enemy often leaves a bomb in the middle of the road to kill passing troops. When someone spots something suspicious, James, Sergeant JT Sanborne (Anthony Mackie), and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) go to work.

The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker
Photo credit: Summit Entertainment

Boal’s brilliant screenplay employs a somewhat episodic structure linking together several of Bravo Company’s most insane assignments, including a dead child turned into a human explosive, a remarkably conceived sniper sequence in the middle of the desert, and a trunk filled with enough firepower to level a city block.

It may sound cliched, but this is edge-of-the-seat material through and through. It is such an intense film that it even works its magic on repeat viewing. I’ve seen the film. I know what’s going to happen. And I still found myself biting my nails and feeling my pulse race on second and third viewing. That is remarkable filmmaking.

Sadly, Summit Entertainment couldn’t provide us with the Blu-ray for the title, but did send over the DVD, a surprisingly technically accomplished release for old-ray. The video transfer is very good but the audio mix is even more remarkable. “The Hurt Locker” is a sensory experience that I imagine will truly stun on Blu-ray, especially considering the standard DVD is one of the best I’ve seen or heard in quite some time.

As for special features, they’re pretty good, if not great. The short behind the scenes featurette is a bit lackluster but the DVD does include a commentary with Bigelow and Boal and an image gallery. After the film has developed a loyal following on DVD, which I suspect it will in a short amount of time, a special edition with more extensive special features is likely to be released.

“The Hurt Locker” has been a major player all awards season and I suspect it will continue to do so through the Oscars. Don’t be the only one in your Oscar pool to not have caught up with the film. You won’t regret it.

‘The Hurt Locker’ is released by Summit Home Video. The film stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, and Christian Camargo and was written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. It was released on DVD on January 12th, 2010. It is rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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