How good are you under pressure? Perhaps you're a dab hand at the board game Operation or used to tight deadlines at work, but do you reckon you're cool enough to defuse bombs in the middle of an active war zone? Jeremy Renner is.
He stars in 2009's The Hurt Locker, a generational movie (and Best Picture winner) that unfortunately leaves Amazon Prime Video on November 1st. A harrowing boots-on-the-ground look at the Iraq war, this is a must-watch movie and critics agree with me. It has a staggering 97% on Rotten Tomatoes
Renner plays Sergeant Will James, a newcomer to an elite Explosive Ordinance Disposal team. Basically, when everyone else runs away, he and the team run in. James is however a bit of a maverick, often risking life and limb beyond the call of duty to get his job done. He regularly takes off parts of his heavy suit mid-operation and isn't exactly a team player. Not great for relieving tension.
What's really special about this story however is the human element. The effect of living on the edge on the team of James, Sanborn (a superb Anthony Mackie) and Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) is clear to see when back at base. These are guys at the absolute top of their game, but even they can't necessarily stand the pressure.
The work behind the camera is exceptional too. Director Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman ever to take the Best Director Oscar, and it's easy to see why she won. The superb use of handheld camera footage, tilting and banking, means we often feel like another member of the squad, on foot ourselves. War is horrible, and we get to see that almost first-hand here.
As for authenticity, the movie was written by Mark Boal, a journalist who shadowed an American Bomb Squad in Iraq. Although not a true story as such, this experience is very much a basis for the movie.