Dave's Rating:

5.0

The hold-your-breath movie of the year.

Who's In It: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fienenes, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly

The Basics: An American military bomb squad unit led by an adrenalin addict (Renner) defuses a lot of bombs. And then they defuse more bombs. Along the way people die. And then there are more bombs, every single one of them destined to blow up in someone's face. For two hours and ten minutes you watch these guys do almost nothing but defuse bombs until your cinema nerves are totally frayed. So imagine what it's like for actual bomb squad guys who have to do it all day long every day for extended tours of duty. And that's the point of the movie.

What's The Deal: I can't say I "enjoyed" this one. It's excellent, but sitting through it is like being forced to carry around a series of short-fused firecrackers between your teeth while watching the Russian roulette scenes from The Deer Hunter over and over. You'll find yourself holding your breath a lot if you buy a ticket. But still, like I say, excellent, if for no other reason than it doesn't get all heavy and maudlin on you about how bad war is. It just shows you.

Who's Great: There are bigger names in this movie than the leads, but it's those leads--Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty--who carry it all and give it both its tension and its odd moments of release. Like there's this one crazy scene where the soldiers are shown happily beating the crap out of each other during their down time, until of course it turns dark and unpleasant. Bad actors don't know how to hold back in moments like that but these guys do. Pay attention to them.

One Beef: An opening title card with a written quote about how war is a drug. Then the first part of the quote fades to black, leaving only the final words "war is a drug" on the screen. I hate it when a movie thinks I'm so dumb I won't be able to figure out what its about. In fact, the film itself, everything you see after that opening title card, is way smarter than that. They could have just chopped off that bit with no problem. Oh well.

Box Office Prospects: How many of the recent spate of narrative and documentary films about the Iraq War have you paid to see? Now take that number and multiply it by a $10 ticket. And you will have lunch money for the week. Maybe.

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