Straight-forward, gripping war movie and a fine character study that doesn't waste words. The film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, deals with three men on a bomb disposal unit in 2004 Iraq. The filmmakers take stock characters and create something personal, intense, brutal, immediate and riveting. Seasoned vet Sgt. JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and skittish Spc. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) have 38 days left in their rotation when their leader dies and is replaced by Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner), who is an even bigger cowboy than the guy that just got killed. The movie pays off so well because it places you fully in the shoes of the men, from their fears and obsessions to their paranoia about virtually every Iraqi citizen they encounter. We get to know the men with a minimum of explanatory speeches their personalities emerge through their on-the-job actions and off-hours interactions. Everybody in the cast is very good, but Renner (Dahmer
) is the clear standout. Watch for brief appearances by Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse and Evangeline Lilly. 127 minutes.