Bomb squad. War zone. Malfunctioning robot. In the opening sequence of The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow expertly sets a tone of anxious, sweat-soaked drama. The film has been playing in New York and Los Angeles, expands to selected cities this Friday, and then goes wide on July 24. You can watch the first eight minutes online at Hulu (or after the jump).
And if that doesn't grab you, I don't know what will. I saw The Hurt Locker at SXSW, and that opening sequence pinned me to my seat. Guy Pearce leads a bomb squad that includes Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty. They're already suited up in protective gear as the scene begins, wisecracking and otherwise demonstrating an easy camaraderie. A small wheeled robot has a minor mechanical malfunction, requiring Pearce to walk into harm's way to fix it. The team's wary conversational bravado continues, even as they shift into high alert on the mostly empty street. Civilian bystanders could be friendly -- or they could be waiting to trigger the bomb.
Jeremy Renner, who turns up a little later in the picture, stars as a new member of the squad. He's a confident expert, but his reckless methods cause the others to question whether his devil-may-care attitude is needlesssly endangering their own lives. Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, and Evangeline Lilly also appear in small roles. I fully agree with James Rocchi, who wrote in his review: "You'll want to see it at a theater near you, in fact, on the largest possible screen with the best possible sound." Don't miss it.