The Source for Parents

Movie Reviews
by Jonathan McKee and Todd Pearage

Hurt Locker, The (1/12/2010)

Rated R for war violence and language.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (K-19: The Widowmaker and Strange Days)

Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty

Jonathan's Rating: Rental

Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

The Hurt Locker is crazy…crazy good!

It’s the summer of 2004 on the streets of Baghdad and Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) of Bravo Company are knee deep in the war effort. They are members of a small counterforce specifically trained to handle the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) or homemade bombs that account for more than half of American hostile deaths and have killed thousands of Iraqis. It is a high-pressure, high-stakes assignment that requires a calm intelligence. After losing their team leader on a routine mission, Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) takes over the team. Sanborn and Eldridge are shocked by what seems like a reckless disregard for military protocol and basic safety measures. Is James really a swaggering cowboy who lives life of the edge or is he a consummate professional who has truly honed his craft? They only have 38 days left of their tour, but each new mission threatens to end it all.

Todd’s Word: When you hear people talk about The Hurt Locker you will most likely hear words like “riveting” or “suspenseful” and believe me those are perfect words for this portrait of our military's unrecognized heroes: the technicians of a bomb squad. These men volunteer for one of the world's most dangerous jobs - unbelievable.

Jonathan’s Word: I agree. This film really made me appreciate our troops. I’d be curious to hear from some active duty servicemen who’ve served in these scenarios and find out how authentic the film portrayed what’s actually going on over there.

Todd’s Word: I knew very little about The Hurt Locker as the film began. The only images I remembered were of explosions and a guy in a bomb squad suit pulling up seven bombs from under the sand. I thought it looked O.K. but…boy was I in for a treat!

Jonathan’s Word: I had heard a little bit of buzz going into the film, but didn’t know exactly what to expect. The film had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Todd’s Word: I’ve seen my share of action movies but this film is definitely more artistic that gratuitous. Without question, the camera angles and realistic explosions make this an incredible visual experience.

Jonathan’s Word: Think of the moment in films where your hero has only three minutes to defuse a bomb. Now consider a movie where the central character’s job is just that--intense, fascinating stuff.

Todd’s Word: And it’s that kind of intensity that makes The Hurt Locker so good. At one point I actually asked, “Is anyone else on pins and needles waiting for something bad to happen?” I experienced that feeling for well over half of the film.

Jonathan’s Word: True. But add to that good storytelling and realistic dialogue. This isn’t just a mindless “bomb-detonating” action thriller.

Todd’s Word: From fantastic images to stellar cameos to the intensity of every scene, The Hurt Locker is “Theater Worthy.”

Jonathan’s Word: I really enjoyed the film. I probably would have given the film a similar score, but I had trouble relating with the central characters. “Likeability” is huge for me. Today’s film-makers love showing what they feel to be “real” and “raw” heroes… that’s code for “flawed.” Call me old fashioned, but I like characters with a little more “character.” As entertaining as the film was, I wasn’t in love with the characters.

It’s definitely worth the rent though, hence my score: “Rental.”

There is plenty of war violence and language—probably true to the way it is over there. Nothing gratuitous. It’s up to you if you think you would show that to your teenagers.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?

  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?

  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

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