Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Hurt Locker (2009)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Hurt Locker (2009)

In Kathryn Bigelow's fact-based, but fictional character study and action thriller about the defusement and detonation of dangerous IED based upon the actual experiences of journalist and screenwriter/producer Mark Boal (Note: a "hurt locker" was the destination of explosion victims):

  • the stressful and tense series of war scenes/set-pieces of an elite group of three bomb-squad specialists or EOD bomb defusers (Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squad) in Bravo Company (cognizant of a 39-day countdown until their home-leave deployment-rotation)
  • the film's opening with the death of team leader SSG Matt Thompson (Guy Pearce) in a bulky Kevlar suit after the failed defusement of a dangerous IED (improvised explosive devices) bomb with a robotic device in the rubble and garbage-strewn streets of Bagdad in 2004 Iraq, when they were threatened with sniper fire and the bomb was set off by a cellphone from a marketplace butcher shop
  • the fears and difficulty of level-headed African-American Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and nervously fearful and pessimistic Spc. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) ("Pretty much the bottom line is, if you're in Iraq, you're dead") in comfortably accepting Thompson's replacement (Sanborn calls him "a redneck piece of trailer trash") - newcomer and risk-taker Army Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner)
  • in scene after scene, James displayed bravado, recklessness and fearlessness:
Sgt. William James Holding Gun on Cab Driver
  1. he activated a flare, obscuring everyone's visibility, and drew his pistol on a suspected Iraqi-haji cab driver during a stand-off while commanding him to back up and get out of the car ("Where are you goin'?...You wanna back up?...You wanna get back?") - and then after clipping the wires to one bomb detonator found it attached to seven others buried nearby, and
  2. his disregard for orders when he attempted to defuse bombs in an illegally-parked, torched car near an evacuated UN building and removed his protective helmet and gear ("If I'm gonna die, I wanna die comfortable") - and also threw away his headset while searching to dismantle the devices and defuse the bombs, and
  3. the sequence of the tense stake-out in the hot desert sun when aiding a party of British army contractors (including Ralph Fiennes) caught in an ambush by an insurgent sniper (Nader Tarawneh), and the use of scopes to zero in on targets - and James' fumbling unwrapping of a juice pack and straw to give a drink to dehydrated partner Sgt. Sanborn, and
  4. the unsuccessful attempt to break the bolts of locks holding strapped explosives with a timer to an Arabic family man's waist
James to Col. Reed:
"The Way You Don't Die, Sir"
Angered Eldridge
  • the sequence in which curious Colonel Reed (David Morse) asked how many bombs "wild man" James had disarmed (he was told 873) - and his remark: "That's just hot s--t", and his follow-up question about the best way to disarm a bomb, with James' dry reply: "The way you don't die, sir"
  • the scene of the three comrades after a tense day - in their compound swigging alcohol, punching each other, and wrestling (and discovering that James kept souvenirs of his bomb dismantlings and components under his bed): "This box is fuII of stuff that aImost kiIIed me...You know, I just think it's reaIIy interesting to hoId something in your hand that couId have kiIIed anyone"
  • the scene of the wounding of Eldridge with a gunshot shattering his femur during an unnecessary nighttime mission and his anger at James as he was airlifted for medical treatment: "We didn't have to go out looking for trouble to get your f--king adrenaline fix, you f--k!"
  • the scene of James' sense of extreme disorientation when confronted by so many choices of frozen pizza and boxed cereal in a US supermarket during home-leave

Failed Defusement of IED

Defusing One of Seven Bombs

Removal of Protective Helmet and Gear While Inspecting Car Trunk Filled With Explosives

In Desert - Contractor Team Leader (Ralph Fiennes)

Sgt. Sanborn in Desert With James

Arabic Man With Strapped Explosives

James' Disorientation in a US Supermarket


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