The Hurt Locker is easily one of the most realistic dramatizations of the War in Iraq out there. And rather than trace the lives and actions of a mobile infantry like its peers, the movie focuses on the activities of three members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit. Jeremy Renner plays Staff Sergeant William James, the leader of the unit. He is a man who is clearly good at what he does (diffusing unexploded bombs) but generally sucks at being a person. Or at least so we are led to believe.
James' daredevil persona actually conceals a childlike vulnerability, one that is revealed when he forges a friendship with a bootleg DVD salesboy named Beckham. And though there is initially some tension between him and the other members of the unit, the three men eventually form a bond that transcends their differences. But when Beckham is revealed to be caught in the snare of the war-torn city, James is willing to go to any lengths to make sure the perpetrators pay with their blood.
One of the most memorable scenes in this movie was the desert ambush, a scene I must have rewatched at least a hundred times now. It was a tense, long-distance battle between snipers, and the tension of that scene alone more than captures the overall tone of this movie. And that is what sets The Hurt Locker apart from others like it, that ever-present fear of an uncertain future, the knowledge that one stray bullet is enough to put an end to any of these soldiers.
The Hurt Locker is quite simply a fine example of quality filmmaking. The movie grabs you from the very first scene and doesn't let go till the very end. And even then it leaves you very much relieved and also wanting more, all at the same time.