The Hurt Locker - Kathryn Bigelow’s nerve-shredding Iraq war movie

As director of gripping Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow will be going head to head with ex-husband James Cameron as Best Director nominees in the Golden Globe awards on January 17th – and probably also at the Oscars two months later.

She’s a very worthy contender: The Hurt Locker is one of the very best films of any genre released in 2009 – and easily the best action movie. When it comes to nerve-shredding suspense and adrenaline-charged excitement, Bigelow blows her male rivals away.

Her movie features cameo appearances by big-name stars Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes, but it’s relative unknown Jeremy Renner who takes the leading role and he deserves a shelf-load of awards himself for his performance as a reckless redneck bomb-disposal expert in Iraq in 2004.

The Hurt Locker - Kathryn Bigelow’s nerve-shredding Iraq war movie

Bigelow’s ex is currently winning praise for the way in which 3D sci-fi epic Avatar thrusts the viewer into the midst of the spectacle, but in its own way – and using far more traditional filmmaking techniques – Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is equally immersive.

With jittery hand-helm cameras deployed to stunning effect, Bigelow plunges us into the heat and dust of Baghdad, where bomb-disposal squads operate in conditions of 360-degree threat. We’re right there alongside Renner’s soldier as he puzzles over the intricate mechanics of the latest IED, and right there alongside his colleagues as they scan the surroundings for snipers. It’s heart-stopping to watch, but impossible to look away.

Released 28th December.

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Kathryn Bigelow: an action director with brains. Read more.