Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Oscar®Oscar® Winner for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing / Nominee for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Cinematography, and Best Music—Original Score
Movie Review

The Hurt Locker

MPAA Rating: R for war violence and language.

Reviewed by: Greg Nielsen
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
War, Action, Adventure, Thriller, Drama
Length:
2 hr. 11 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
June 26, 2009 (limited—4 theaters)
July 10, 2009 (wider) July 24, 2009 (wider—200+ theaters)
DVD: January 12, 2010
Copyright, Summit Entertainment click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment

War in the Bible

Death

Drunkenness

TERRORIST REVENGE—Love replaces hatred—former Israeli soldier and an ex-PLO fighter prove peace is possible-but only with Jesus

IRAQ—What is the significance of Iraq in the Bible? Answer

Desert

Featuring: Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, Jeremy Renner, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, David Morse, Christian Camargo, Suhail Al-Dabbach, Christopher Sayegh, Nabil Koni, Sam Spruell, Sam Redford, Feisal Sadoun, Barrie Rice, Imad Dadudi, Erin Gann, Justin Campbell, Malcolm Barrett, Kristoffer Winter, J.J. Kandel, Ryan Tramont, Michael Desante, Hasan Darwish, Wasfi Amour, Nibras Quassem, Ben Thomas, Nader Tarawneh, Anas “Tipsy” Wellman, Omar Mario, Fleming Campbell, David Gueriera, Kate Mines
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Producer: First Light Production, Kingsgate Films, Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Tony Mark, Donall McCusker, Greg Shapiro
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

“War is a drug.”

“The Hurt Locker” is a movie about a bomb squad in Iraq on the last 30 days of their tour of duty. The group consists of three people. 2 of the men play bodyguards to James, the new bomb disposal expert. They don’t get along, because James takes risks that could get them killed.

That’s the plot. No, I’m not leaving stuff out. Yes, it may absolutely pin you to the seat beyond riveting. I’ve seen a lot of movies this year. It’s a list that includes everything from the juvenile shocks of “Watchmen” to the cartoon that was the new “Terminator” movie. I’ve seen almost every action movie that you can think of, and I can’t think of a movie more intense than this one. It’s intense without having to resort to constant violence and gore, either. In fact, it is really rather limited in it’s violence. It’s just, when it happens, it’s very realistic and quick. Even if you have a weak stomach, you’ll probably be ok.

And, oh my goodness, everyone in this movie is talented. If Jeremy Renner does not get a nomination for best actor at the Oscars, you know they truly don’t care anymore. He plays a character that a ham actor would make unbearable fast. Everybody else in this movie is just as good—from David Morse to Anthony Mackie.

So, I’ll stop praising what is the best action movie of the past thirty years for a bit. I’ll talk about what you probably want to know about, which is why you might need to skip this movie. Needless to say, these guys curse. They curse like a James Ellroy novel, which is to say creatively and frequently.

It would be very easy to focus on the fact that some of the commanders of these men are seen as either ineffectual or as just plain idiots. I support the army. I don’t think these people are idiots. However, I do know some people in the army, and they’ve told me some stories that’ll make you, and certainly me, worry for them. In the end, I think it’s just another way of adding to the realism. Besides, one of the ineffectual commanders is a nut case right winger, and the other is a politically correct idiot. One of these guys ends up in a bad way, and I won’t spoil which. Although everything I’ve stated here is mostly a political, not moral, question.

I guess the only other thing you’d have to worry about would be, of course, violence. It’s a given in a movie like this. As I said, you do not see a lot of it. When it happens though, it’s quick and rough. They do bring up body bombs, too. Whereas terrorists hide bombs in dead bodies. It’s an important scene.

Few movies really bring up how nasty the terrorists in Iraq are. Usually, you get stuff like in “Body of Lies.” Terrorists that will only kill other grown men and ineffectually hurt a big name American movie star. “The Hurt Locker” has the upper hand here, not just realistically, but morally. Nobody should be white washing what these people are doing over there to people who don’t follow their idea of religion.

All this to say that, ultimately, even though there are some reasons you might not want to see the movie, perhaps you should anyway. Although, I understand still not wanting to see the movie. The Bible tells us to focus on what’s good and right, and there is some most definitely not good or right actions and people in this movie. The movie, however, is about the reality of what’s happening over there, and we can’t really ignore it.

Sadly, the American army chose not to help make this movie. Normally, the various branches of the military help out on any movie getting made that involves them. They helped make, of all things, Bill Murray’s “Stripes.” “The Hurt Locker” got no such help. The director, Kathyrn Bigelow, had to finance it all herself. “Transformers 2” got the help of all four branches and real soldiers for extras. They look like morons in that movie who have to rely on a college kid and robots to fight space aliens. So, my tax dollars funded trash, although admittedly fun trash that I enjoyed, but did nothing to help out with the making of something that is a masterpiece. I guess what we can take away from all this is that the private sector really is better than the government at everything.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—The delivery of this movie is handled ever so adroitly—I love it. Long shots are used in place of the frenetic blurbs they call “action shots” these days. The camera is frequently handheld but never too shaky that it requires its audience to bust out the dramamine. The acting is superb. You can really read the pained expressions on their faces, almost as if they were there and lived the life of an EOD soldier. The violence is handled incredibly tacitly, as it is in “The Dark Knight.” But like Batsy’s latest romp, the violence is still felt. It lingers in the air like a brooding afterthought. Intangible, invisible, though still present long after the fact. Even so, for an “R” pic, “The Hurt Locker” does well to show only what is needed in conveying its gravity. The same can be said for the amount of language. Albeit it’s a war drama, the cursing is surprisingly scaled back.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Mega Tron, age 23 (USA)
Positive—This film’s quality is excellent, and this is probably the best movie I’ve seen this year. I agree with the reviewer in that if Jeremy Renner does not get an Oscar nod this year, it will be an utter shame. While the scenes in Iraq are well done and riveting, I found the last 20 minutes of the film the most compelling. This film accurately portrays the lack of roles some of our soldiers own after combat. The role of “soldier” in that this is the only role that Sgt. James is able to know, and it points out the huge need for support our returning troops need and deserve.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sarah, age 24 (USA)
Positive—I’ve had good friends come back from Iraq with stories that I simply didn’t believe, and this movie gave me a glimpse of why I might have trouble understanding the war from my comfortable home here on these shores. As a work of fiction, it’s intense, believable, and, honestly, oddly uplifting. I can’t believe the Armed Forces didn’t support this film, and my friends feel the same way.

This movie goes out of its way to show how difficult and dangerous life is in the war, and reminds us that these people VOLUNTEERED to go out there to serve their respective nations and ways of life.

For those who feel the military was not depicted in a positive fashion, I point to one brief moment that defined the main character for me. In the desert, under attack, covered in flies and severely dehydrated, James gets out a juice pack. He painstakingly fiddles with the straw, fumbling with the foil packaging, coughing from thirst. He gets the straw in, sets the juice upright, and then, without a second thought, puts it in front of his squad mate and says “drink.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chris Lau, age 35 (USA)
Neutral—After reading this review and renting the film on DVD, I have to say that “The Hurt Locker” is a good film. The whole scenery of the film is dripping with realism. It gave me a glimpse of the realities of the war in the Middle East. From my perspective, the U.S. military was portrayed in a neutral light; neither positive or negative. The film had no left or right leaning bias. It’s simply a film about U.S. soldiers who go out and defuse bombs. The objectionable content is understandable for the R rating. Since it is a war movie, I expected violence and gore as well as profanity since the story surrounds a group of soldiers working in life-or-death situations. It’s a good movie overall, but it isn’t quite uplifting (understandably so).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Shannon H., age 28 (USA)
Neutral—I was totally bored by this movie, a music score throughout might have helped. I don’t see how it qualified for an Oscar, but then I’ve never cared for most Oscar winning movies. I thought all 3 main actors did a good job, but no one better than the other. I don’t like to hear the f-word but I felt it was not out of place in a movie like this. I believe Jesus name was used 3 times, twice as a curse word and once as in reference to heaven.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Bobbie, age 69 (USA)
Positive—This movie is probably the best war movie I have ever seen--it’s REAL. It’s like I’m actually there. I wish I could have seen it in theaters, but alas I didn’t get the chance. As to lots of peoples objections (Bart, age 41 in particular), yes there is a sexual joke right off in the beginning--but other than that there might be only a couple more references. On the other note, this is a movie about the Army--there WILL be language and violence. It’s much worse in real life, trust me (my cousin’s in the Army.) The way it was filmed, the steady acting, the interesting script, the emotional tone--everything hits right on the mark to make a memorable film experience. No wonder it won the Academy Awards!! I was rooting for it. A must-see of 2009, I plan to view it again some time. Way to go!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ben Badger, age 18 (USA)
Neutral

Neutral—In regards to a comment made by: Joshua S., age 16 (USA), I just didn’t feel like your comments were all lining up with a Christian world view, some were more politically correct, than based on truth, and some were incorrect.

Quote—“I’m sorry, but when did the film insinuate anything about bearing anti-Bush or anti-war? (Which is no reason for a Christian to not see a film by the way, since these are opinions of politics and in no way related to religion)” The “I don’t know thing” in the movie is a subtle way of saying what the troops are doing is pointless, whether you think so or not, that’s exactly what it’s saying. Are politics not related to Christian beliefs? What about abortion? Much of politics are related! That’s why it is so important for Christians to vote their values!

Quote—“The Iraqi and Afghan people are not evil, or bad, neither are many Muslims, even if we do not believe in or agree with their religion, saying otherwise is equivalent to saying that all Catholics are evil if you are Protestant. The evil people in these countries are the terrorists, there are extremists in every religion, not just theirs.” I would agree with most of this quote, but I am getting the feeling that you think the religion is not evil. If the Muslim religion is practiced exactly the way it is supposed to be practiced, it is violent, evil, and advocates the killing of innocent people in order to accomplish a successful jihad. The Muslims that don’t believe in killing innocent people, are not following what the Quran says.

I just wanted to throw that out there. Islam is not a peaceful religion. Those who think it is do not understand it. Being accepting and tolerant is not what we as Christians are supposed to do. We are to chose good over evil, in every situation. Humbly, your friend in Christ! God Bless!
—Buddy, age 24 (USA)

Negative
Negative—This movie never tells why we are at war. It starts with a quote about “war being a drug” and ends with that same quote after the solder leaves his new kid and wife because he only loves one thing now war. I seen it because of this reviewers opinion and now I wonder what world view this reviewer has? This war is about Islam just like WWII was about Nazi and the emperor in Japan setting himself up as God. Koma Kazi pilots getting rewarded for suicide killings etc. Some worldviews and the consequences of those worldviews need to be put down or we suffer under them and that is why the movie should have portrayed. It gave no reason why Americans are dying. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Dan Hovseth, age 44 (USA)
Negative—After reading main review at top, I decided to go. I go to maybe 4 movies a year now. I only watch morally uplifting or truthful movies. Anyhow, I enjoyed most of this film or the parts that dealt with their experiences with disarming the bombs. However, it slowly and deliberately decided to knock president Bush and the war. The key character that everyone looked up to says in response to being asked why are you doing this and says, “I don’t know,” insinuatingly that the war effort was pointless, with undertones to the feelings of many about the Vietnam War. Made statements on the pointlessness of war. A colonel gets killed helping give therapy to a man on the bomb team. Interestingly, this movie comes off seeming like it is a real documentary-type movie, but it is all acted, and the script is not based on any truth.

They get drunk and hit each other. I almost got up, but my wife didn’t want to make a scene in getting up. It reminded me of the other movie about the US military going to Iraq cause some of their buddies got killed in a terrorist raid. They “finangle” their way over their and are portrayed as bad as the terrorists they are trying to kill.

Some of these movies will be so subtle that on the surface it is difficult to see, but then if you pay attention you can see the points being made. One question I asked my wife afterwards. “Was the military portrayed in a positive light or negative?”, and she said “negative.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Greg T, age 47 (USA)
Comments from young people
Neutral—“The Hurt Locker” wasn’t a very “entertaining” film, but it was realistic. It shows what it’s like to be an American soldier in Iraq and the threats they face. It’s not really an action movie, it’s more of a documentary-type movie than anything else, but as I said before it is very realistic. From a moral standpoint, the main offense is swearing, they swear a whole lot in this film—making it inapproiate for kids, granted though that is the way war is.

Bottom line is if you want a realistic war movie that shows it from a soldiers prospective, and you don’t mind the swearing, this is a movie for you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Sam O., age 14 (USA)
Positive—This movie was excellent. It portrayed the War in Iraq in a new light. One that does not come with politics debating whether the war is justified or unjustified, but one that simply just shows what it’s like to be a part of a bomb squad in this war. We learn about the struggles the characters have gone through in their life, and we learn why they are here. We learn what it takes to be a soldier, and how it is not taken for granted.

The plot was excellent and so was the acting. Jeremy Renner deserves the Oscar for best actor, and Kathryn Bigelow for best director. Everything about this music was so real and just so entertaining to view.

The violence/gore in this movie consists of mild gun fights (nothing too graphic), viewing the inside intestines of a young Iraq boy, and a few explosions. There were at least 20 “F” words, but one should expect this when coming into a war movie. As well as a few “S” words, and a couple of h-lls and d-mns thrown in there.

But overall, I would reccommend this movie to people who are fascinated by our military and would like to see what it’s really like to be in the war in Iraq. And even if you aren’t crazy about military movies (believe me I didn’t even like “Saving Private Ryan”) this movie is just too good to pass up. I encourage you all to view “The Hurt Locker”.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Matthew N., age 16 (USA)

Positive—In response to Greg T. “However, it slowly and deliberately decided to knock president Bush and the war. The key character says in response to being asked why are you doing this and says, “I don’t know,” insinuatingly that the war effort was pointless, with undertones to the feelings of many about the Vietnam War.” I’m sorry, but when did the film insinuate anything about bearing anti-Bush or anti-war? (Which is no reason for a Christian to not see a film by the way, since these are opinions of politics and in no way related to religion) This quote you use is in regard to the character and their personal struggles in what is undeniably a terrible situation, in absolutely no way related to anti-war stabs; if these characters were anti-war, this film would play like “Rendition” or “Lions for Lambs,” and they would not be in the military at all, neither of these being true (and this film being much better then those). How you came to these conclusions is a mystery to me.

“They get drunk and hit each other. It reminded me of the other movie about the US military going to Iraq cause some of their buddies got killed in a terrorist raid. They “finagle” their way over their and are portrayed as bad as the terrorists they are trying to kill.” Again, I’m sorry, but how do these characters drinking showcase them in a negative light as people, or as you say, “as bad as the terrorists they are trying to kill.” These are unchristian men in their twenties to thirties, they obviously make the unwise decision to become intoxicated, yet I fail to see how this displays them as bad as the terrorists. The terrorists are shown (even though they are never actually shown) as owning up to their namesake, they cause terror, not just for the US army, but among their own people (as displayed in the body bomb scene), this is a fact I believe far too many Americans forget. The Iraqi and Afghan people are not evil, or bad, neither are many Muslims, even if we do not believe in or agree with their religion, saying otherwise is equivalent to saying that all Catholics are evil if you are Protestant. The evil people in these countries are the terrorists, there are extremists in every religion, not just theirs.

Part of the strength of “The Hurt Locker,” the best film I saw from 2009 and one of the best to be released this decade, is that the film remains vehemently unpolitical. There is no red and blue behind this film or its script, unlike “Lions for Lambs” or “Rendition,” this film places its focus precisely on its characters and their immediate situations. The film is taut, tense and superbly well-done in every aspect. It is the type of war film that will be remembered for years, along with “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” It is also the quintessential film based on the Iraq war, doing what a war film should, portraying both the banalities and the horrors of everyday life in the war zone, and what happens during the war, not why the war is happening or the reasons for it.

This is a film, like “The Passion…” and “Schindler’s List,” that should be seen, especially now while it is relevant. You never saw a film about the holocaust in the holocaust, but today you see films about the Iraq war while the “war” is still going on, fresh in our minds. This is an important film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joshua S., age 16 (USA)

Comments from non-viewers
Negative—My family and I rented this film even with the understanding that there would be offensive language in it. We have a TV Guardian that is supposed to block the foul language, but in this case it did not at all. Within the first couple of lines there was a very offensive sexual remark that was made and the F bomb was dropped right off the bat. We turned the movie off within the first 10 minutes and will take the rental back tomorrow. I would not recommend this movie to anyone that is concerned about major foul language and sexual innuendos because this movie is full of them.
—Bart, age 41 (USA)