Renner's hero/antihero in "Hurt Locker" could have been an idiot savant. And when it comes to defusing bombs, he's a savant, all right. But he's never an idiot. His supreme confidence imbues him with uncanny alertness. James is the character who embodies what the filmmakers set up as their thesis. For a master warrior like James, the bracing, all-encompassing immediacy of combat, along with its challenge to prowess, can turn war into a drug.
As Renner plays him and the filmmakers frame him, he's a complicated man, not an example. He isn't merely an addict: he's a man who knows he can touch greatness only through his craft. The filmmakers provide plenty of evidence for a negative reading of his character; he turns the diverse triggers and tripping devices that's he's conquered into keepsakes, just as serial killers collect victims' mementos. (Director Kathryn Bigelow has said she cast Renner after seeing him play Jeffrey Dahmer.) But he also expresses surprising tenderness to his fellow soldiers and to a friendly Iraqi boy who sells bootleg DVDs.
Do you think he and Bird will be able to add some welcome texture to the frenetic "Mission: Impossible" franchise? (I think that if anyone can right now, it's these two guys.)