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Review: 'The Hurt Locker'

This riveting, documentarylike combat movie about a bomb squad in Iraq will keep you on edge.

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Of the many dramatic movies that have been made about Iraq, "The Hurt Locker," which is about Army bomb-squad technicians in Baghdad, is the only one that conveys with the utmost vividness a documentarylike immediacy. The director, Kathryn Bigelow, shot with four lightweight cameras, and the imagery is rarely still. The jitteriness is appropriate for a world where everything can suddenly blow to smithereens.

The script is by Mark Boal, whose journalism was the basis for the story behind Paul Haggis's "In the Valley of Elah," about a father trying to discover how his soldier son died after returning from Iraq. Boal was embedded in Iraq with an explosive ordnance disposal squad, and this helps give "The Hurt Locker," set in presurge 2004, its core of verity. The drills, the vernacular, the missions all seem freshly observed. Bigelow's gift for orchestrating violence works especially well in this context because so much of the violence in the movie erupts with such stunning irregularity. She keeps us on edge throughout.

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