The Hurt Locker

7.52 h 10 min2009X-RayHDRUHDR
Jeremy Renner portrays the leader of a U.S. bomb-defusing squad in Iraq in this fierce tale of war. Winner of 6 Oscars including 2009's Best Picture and Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow).
Kathryn Bigelow
Jeremy RennerAnthony MackieBrian Geraghty
SuspenseDramaActionMilitary and War
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Supporting actors
Guy PearceRalph Finnes
Kathryn BigelowMark BoalNicolas Chartier
R (Restricted)
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Violencealcohol usesmokingfoul languagesexual content
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4.6 out of 5 stars

5808 global ratings

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  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

joel wingReviewed in the United States on November 3, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Despite some flaws still best Iraq War movie made
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There were a number of movies about the U.S. war in Iraq none of which really worked. The Hurt Locker was the first one that really succeeded. It focuses upon Jeremy Renner as Sergeant William James who works in bomb disposal unit. James is an adrenaline junkie who thrives off of the danger of disarming bombs. That leads to a number of harrowing experiences which endangers his team of Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty). Their first day out together for example, they receive word of an improvised explosive device (IED) in the middle of a street and Sgt James decides to investigate it by himself rather then send a drone down to look at it which was the usual modus operandi. While walking towards the site a taxi cab runs through the U.S. perimeter and almost runs over James. He pulls out his revolver leading to a stand off in an already tense situation. When James finally finds the IED it turns out to be 7 artillery shells all connected together, which provides a really dramatic shot as he pulls the shells from the ground.

The reason why Hurt Locker worked was because it didn’t try to comment on the causes of the war. It wasn’t a moral tale about the conflict. Rather it simply focused upon the comradery, conflicts, and danger the three soldiers faced.

That being said there are some elements that are really horrible. For instance, James believes an Iraqi boy he met was killed by insurgents. He gets so upset he goes into Baghdad seeking revenge. This is where he meets an Iraqi family which is supposed to provide the Iraqi perspective. He then runs back to his base. Baghdad is a city of 7 million people. The situation is just completely unbelievable.

Even with the problems Hurt Locker was still a good war movie overall.
18 people found this helpful
C. CollinsReviewed in the United States on September 7, 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
Iraq from the perspective of those on the front lines
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This is an action packed film that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. The characters are propelled from one risky situation to the next without much of a break between. The film is about a bomb removal or disposal unit who must deal with the vast proliferation of IEDs set by the insurgents for our young soldiers. The fact that these IEDs are produced using diverted military supplies is beyond tragic incompetence.

Jeremy Renner is superb as Sergeant James, a fascinating character who seems driven for many reasons to take outrageous risks when dismantling IEDs. He is contrasted with Sergeant Sanborn, the voice of reason and experience, which is highly annoyed by excessive risk taking. Most viewers would identify with Sergeant Sanborn's common sense in the face of ever changing risks. A third fellow, Specialist Eldridge, is also a character with whom many may identify, for he knows that war in Iraq had become insane and he struggles to mentally hold himself together under the stress.

I found this film to be highly entertaining with a compelling story and realistic characters in challenging situations. I loved Black Hawk Down and found this film to be as good a film. A year in the life of a bomb disposal unit would be a terrible year for each day presented new life threatening situations, often ambiguous signals, and ever changing risks. When I read the other reviews, particularly those folks who gave the film low marks, I found that most of the complaints were highly technical and detail oriented. In other words, for the film to get it right, every detail about military operations must be exactly portrayed. I am not sure I agree with this since the essence of the film, the messages conveyed, seemed authentic and fair. The American soldiers were portrayed with a sense of fair play and balance. I actually found some of the negative reviews to be educational, particularly those reviewers who have served in Iraq and who had detailed criticism of various aspects of the film. But these same reviewers rarely concerned themselves with the underlying character development and sequence of events that came together in this portrayal of one slice of the war in Iraq.

The film does an excellent job of conveying the almost impossible task our soldiers faced in a country undergoing a civil war and filled with insurgency. In civil war horrors are inflicted on citizens by citizens, as gruesomely conveyed in scenes in this film. When dealing with insurgency, it is impossible to tell if the man smiling at you is about to kill you, again as this film perfectly portrayed. The film also stays away from politics and political statements and it does this by focusing on the Iraqi people and settings and the American soldiers and their predicaments. In actuality, this made more of a moral and ethical statement than any political statement could make.
3 people found this helpful
Mr. BraunReviewed in the United States on August 20, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great movie
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It isn’t exactly accurate when it comes to EOD but it’s fun to watch. The sniper scene was intense.
Robert HayesReviewed in the United States on February 8, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
A solidly made modern war film
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THE HURT LOCKER is a tense but emotionally distant war film from director Kathryn Bigelow, and starring Jeremy Renner. It follows an Army bomb disposal unit around as they do their job in war-torn Iraq. Unlike most war films it doesn't really take a stance on whether or not we should even be there, instead focusing on the psychology of warfare and what it does to the human mind. I thought that this approach mostly worked, although it kept the audience at a certain distance emotionally from the characters. The main character is played by Jeremy Renner, and he is the sergeant in charge of the unit. He is brash, reckless and one could almost say he has a death wish. What is closer to the truth is that he just loves what he does, and the thrill he gets from doing it. Also in his unit are another sergeant and a specialist played by Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, respectively. They serve as counterpoint to Renner's character, and as a rational check against his unbridled nature. While most of the film deals with their bomb-defusing exploits, there are some moments when the true ugliness of the Iraq War shows its face, such as a tense nighttime scene in which Renner's character stalks someone he thinks is responsible for the death of a young street vendor he met. He ends up in the wrong place and just leaves before the situation escalates. It is in moments like that where the film hints at a possibly deeper reading of the film in terms of whether we should have even been in Iraq in the first place. That being said, the film is well-acted by everyone involved and the handheld cinematography worked in its favor, putting the viewer into the heat of the situations that arose. I guess my biggest gripe would be that it never explicitly challenges American presence in Iraq, but it's not necessarily a film's job to do that for you. With what it portrayed, and who the main character was, it still allows you to draw your own conclusions. For one, it must take a special someone to be a bomb disposal expert. And also, not everyone is cut out for combat. Overall, THE HURT LOCKER is a solid piece of filmmaking and an interesting look into modern warfare.
One person found this helpful
Giancarlo CroceReviewed in the United States on February 24, 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars
Stunning Reality (BEST PICTURE 2010 OSCARS)
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It's really difficult to imagine how this film was made without any assistance from the U.S. Armed Forces, but they did it. The Army felt this was too much of an anti-war story. But I guess that depends on your point of view. Showing the horrors of war is not necessarily anti-war. It's just a taste of reality. And in this case, it's a bitter taste.

Exploring the activites and emotions of an Army Explosive Ordinance team, The Hurt Locker was filmed in Jordan, not in Iraq. But I don't think anyone besides an Iraq War veteran will know this wasn't filmed in the war zone, with real troops and live ammunition. It feels like the real thing. Not so much documentary style as I had imagined. The actors are wonderful. The writing is crisp and concise. The photography is amazing. And the entire story is completely believable. It's no wonder The Hurt Locker rocked the 2010 BAFTA awards, winning best film, director, original screenplay, editing, cinematography and sound. I have no doubt that the film will also sweep the Oscars.

I hate to single anyone out of this superb cast, but I have to say what a pleasure it was to see Guy Pearce in the role of Staff Sergeant Matt Thompson. I've long admired his acting, and wished to see him more often. Jeremy Renner and Ralph Fiennes also turned in predictably solid performances, which I'm sure raised the bar for the less experienced members of the corps.

I'm told the budget for this film was only $11 million. Which, when compared to $200 million dollar blockbusters, is an unimaginably small budget. But you will never know, from watching this film, that there was any ill effect from such a thrifty production. It looks and feels like the award winning accomplishment it is. And that only adds to my admiration of director Kathryn Bigelow (James Cameron's ex-wife), and her talented crew. I just can't heap enough praise upon this gem.

Whether you view this as pro-Army, or anti-war, or just plain shocking, you have to say this film is thought provoking, deeply emotional, and I feel, honestly presents the bravery, patriotism, and esprit de corps of the men you'll find in our military today.

Update 8Mar; Congratulations to Kathryn, and the cast and crew for 9 Oscar nominations, and 6 Oscar awards including BEST PICTURE!
3 people found this helpful
Richard L. PangburnReviewed in the United States on March 18, 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars
A small parable for the entire war.
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We made war because we were motivated by fear, by the propaganda of the demagogues under the guise of just cause, and not only of just cause but of necessity. They even had me convinced by their mass media barrage of patriotism, their lip-service to Judeo-Christian ideals, and their creation of an environment of fear.

Once into the war, even though our nation was beginning to slowly come to its senses, there was no getting out. We were locked in. We are still locked in.

In the movie, the civilian who appears with the bomb locked around him is used not just as a thriller plot device. It is a metaphor for our own participation in this war. We were locked in, and there are so many locks to break. The interpreters and the man himself cry out that he is, like us, a good man, forced into the situation he is in. That he just wants to return to his family.

The gun-ho, ego-driven, war-addicted Will James (named after the cowboy author but also representative of the Will Force--in a sort of Nietzsche/Schopenhauer sense) wants vengeance for the death of the pirate-video-selling kid, which never happened except in his imagination, and Will conscripts the rest of his team to go after the bad guys on his own cuff. The professional soldier and the everyman counting the days until he can get out of Iraq reluctantly follow, and the everyman is badly wounded, crippled, needlessly.

It turns out that Will had misidentified the kid's body and took them in there, putting their lives at risk as well as creating terror among peaceful native civilians, for nothing.

This incident is a small parable for the whole war.

While we might blame Bush & Co. for this specific war, we could not blame them for the constancy of war in the human condition. On that grander scale, this movie asks the question: Who locks these locks on the everyman civilian, who has so many locks on him that--try as we might to free him--it remains hopeless?

The answer is that the Will Force is the war locker, the hurt locker. I'm glad that they did not place the duality of politics into the movie, for the movie is not about politics--it is about the human condition.
One person found this helpful
MargaretNCReviewed in the United States on June 2, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Relatable message about a world few can understand
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This is a stunning movie with a simple plot about an extremely complex topic. Viewers follow a 3-man explosive ordnance disposal squad in charge of defusing explosive devices during the Iraq War. At the beginning of the movie, the subtitles count down a 38-day mission in Baghdad that seems to last forever as the squad loses its first team leader (played by Guy Pearce), then struggles to adjust to his brash replacement, Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner). The end of the movie starts counting down a 365-day mission, which James apparently hopes will last forever.

The movie leaves one with deep respect for real EOD technicians, some who have pointed out factual errors and exaggerations in the movie, especially regarding the cavalier attitude toward safety that never occurs in the field. I can’t begin to understand the technical content, but I and all viewers have encountered the Sergeant James personality in our own worlds (e.g. some surgeons in the medical field I know). Journalist and screenwriter Mark Boal (who spent 2 weeks with a bomb squad in Iraq) and Director Kathryn Bigelow handle James’ character deftly. Just as James is looking predictably overpowering, he is suddenly the support person to Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) who picks off snipers in an all-day mission. James infuriates Sanborn and Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) with shoot-from-the-hip behavior that is frightening to watch. But as is true in other settings, James’ invulnerability drives the success of the team by invoking anger instead of full appreciation of the life-threatening risks they face.

In an abrupt cut to his mundane life back home, James looks overwhelmed for the first time while standing in front of long shelves of breakfast cereal in a grocery store. The viewer’s drop in adrenaline during this scene almost makes us understand what James is thinking. I missed this movie in the theaters and watched it now only to be informed. It was a pleasant surprise to find a relatable message in a world very few truly understand.
Doreen AppletonReviewed in the United States on March 5, 2010
4.0 out of 5 stars
Worth seeing for Americans
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Everything is okay until Will goes in search of those who killed Beckham. That is not military, that is not suspense. Then the confusing night scene which culminates in the wounding of Eldridge by Will hurts the momentum of the movie.

The helpless innocent man with the bombs padlocked to his body is pathetic, as is the sight of Will in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, but the power of the movie ended with the sniper scene in the desert with Ralph Fiennes. If Bigelow had removed those later scenes and replaced them with something better, more to the point, the whole movie would have been excellent.

The absurdity of war, the civilian population looking on either indifferently or with concealed lethal intentions, is well done. In one scene there is an Iraqi with a camcorder hoping to get footage of the Americans being blown up.

The character of Will is haunting, the war addict, who is unfit for civilian life and can only go from war to war, defusing bombs until something or someone kills him.

The reappearance of Beckham, who was not after all the dead boy with the body bomb, is a fine irony. To Will, just as much as anyone else, the Iraqis "all look alike." Will turns and walks away in disgust at his own error.

Unstated, but palpable everywhere, is the obvious fact that we shouldn't be there, we should be home in our own country. By invading a foreign country we become the victims of its own captive people. They pick us off one by one, and our unfortunate soldiers say, "They won't come out and fight." It is Eldridge who says cynically, "Iraq is death." If a foreign nation invaded America, we would certainly sow our roads and highways with IEDs, and we would use ambushes and snipers to make the foreign power as uncomfortable as possible. Our founding Fathers did this during the Revolutionary War.

The occupation goes on, as Ho Chi Minh said, "Until the Americans leave." Like the Romans, like the Mongols, the Americans will tire of being here and will go someplace else to build their empire.
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