The Hurt Locker (2008)
Most of the movies on this list feature a hefty amount of action, but few balance the action with the drama and reflective character exploration than Kathryn Bigelow’s phenomenal The Hurt Locker. The movie painfully depicts the effects of the current Iraq war on those who are fighting it, the camaraderie it builds, the lives it destroys, and the addictions it forms. Jeremy Renner gives a breakout performance as the steely Sergeant First Class William James and carries the film from front to back.
The Hurt Locker is also notable for its ability to keep things feeling chaotic in the action sequences yet never lose sight of what it’s trying to show you. It’s remarkably well-constructed, both visually and structurally.
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