What differentiates this film from “Point Break“, however, is that where that film is a big, daft action movie, made for ease of use rather than use of brain, this one is a much more solemn and intense affair. Set in Iraq, the film follows a squad of bomb disposal experts, as they do their best to keep the streets, if not exactly danger free, at least free of planted explosives.
The film opens as tragedy hits the team, and are joined by a new team leader â€“ Sergeant First Class William James, played by Jeremy Renner, who brings a sardonic edge to the over-confident and super-competent bomb disposal expert.
Weâ€™re trained by movies to expect certain things at this point â€“ conflict between him and his new team as his maverick attitude puts them in danger, high-octane action set-pieces, bonding moments, and ultimately resolution as he proves himself to team-mates and audience alike.
Bigelowâ€™s movie totally subverts everything we expect from it, almost wilfully daring the viewer to bitch about their thwarted expectations. Which is kind of mean when you consider how much her earlier work has done to create the expected modes in the first place!
What we get instead is a naturalistic, political or social agenda-free movie that follows its characters around as they do their jobs, in admittedly emotionally heightened conditions, rather than have them explain their actions.