The Hurt Locker (2008) Director: Kathryn Bigelow

I have to admit, for the first Act of The Hurt Locker I thought "What's all the fuss about?" We do have a big name blown-up but the film failed to grip me as I thought it would and Jeremy Renner's William James seemed stereotypical of the 'guy who breaks the rules', a Maverick/Top Gun of bomb disposal.

The game changes when William and his tight-knit EOD team (of two others) go into the Iraqi desert and encounter a bunch of mercenaries, led by Ralph Fiennes, who have Iraqi prisoners. The group come under fire and are picked off one-by-one. The tension is IMMENSE. No-one is safe. This isn't comic book violence - when people get shot here, it looks like it f**king hurts. William gets into a lengthy, almost Western-like, stand-off with the enemy and that's it, that was my hook.

The film could have gone back to being a bit wussy after that but Bigelow keeps the pace going and doesn't give up on the brutality - how about a young boy with a bomb sewn into his stomach? A petrol tanker detonation? And we then reach the final, heart-breaking Saw-esque puzzle - can William save an innocent Iraqi civilian who has a bomb bolted to his chest, pleading for his life and crying over his family? It's upsetting, it's relentless, it's bloody, it's's war.

Final scenes give us an interesting take on William's homelife and his reasons for doing the job he does; he almost can't cope with or understand 'normal life' and feels more at home grappling the colour coded wires of a bomb. This is far more of a stimulating challenge to him than being a civilian.

The Hurt Locker is an exceptional piece of film-making. It'll stay with you long after the credits roll.