AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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The Hurt Locker
Director: Kathryn Bigelow (Dir)
Release Date:   26 Jun 2009
Premiere Information:   Venice International Film Festival screening: 4 Sep 2008; Toronto International Film Festival screening: 6 Sep 2008
Production Date:   23 Jul--22 Sep 2007
Duration (in mins):   127 or 130
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Cast:   Jeremy Renner (Staff Sergeant William James)  
    Anthony Mackie (Sergeant JT Sanborn)  
    Brian Geraghty (Specialist Owen Eldridge)  
    Guy Pearce (Sergeant Matt Thompson)  
    Ralph Fiennes (Contractor team leader)  
    David Morse (Colonel Reed)  
    Evangeline Lilly (Connie James)  
    Christian Camargo (Colonel John Cambridge)  
    Suhail Al-Dabbach (Black suit man)  
    Christopher Sayegh (Beckham)  
    Nabil Koni (Professor Nabil)  
    Sam Spruell (Contractor Charlie)  
    Sam Redford (Contractor Jimmy)  
    Feisal Sadoun (Contractor Feisal)  
    Barrie Rice (Contractor Chris)  
    Imad Daoudi (Iraqi police captain at UN)  
    Erin Gann (Mortuary affaris officer)  
    Justin Campbell (Sergeant Carter)  
    Malcolm Barrett (Sergeant Foster)  
    Kristoffer Winter (Soldier at intersection)  
    J.J. Kandel (Guard at Camp Liberty market)  
    Ryan Tramont (Guard at Liberty Gate)  
    Michael Desante (Iraqi translator)  
    Hasan Darwish (DVD merchant)  
    Wasfi Amour (Insurgent in the stairwell)  
    Nibras Qassem (Nabil's wife)  
    Ben Thomas (US Army medic)  
    Nader Tarawneh (Insurgent sniper)  
    Anas "Tipsy" Wellman (Soldier at UN)  
    Omar Mario (Butcher)  
    Fleming Campbell (Soldier at airfield)  

Summary: In the summer of 2004, in the war-stricken city of Baghdad, Iraq, the most dangerous job in the United States Army is undertaken by members of the elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squads, who find and disarm bombs that have been set by insurgents. Sergeant Matt Thompson and Sergeant JT Sanborn of Bravo Company’s EOD unit use a bomb disposal robot to find suspected homemade bombs, called improvised explosive devices (IED), that can be detonated by remote control. Armed with a rifle, Specialist Owen Eldridge, the youngest member of the team, carefully observes the many onlookers who watch the team, knowing that any one of them might be an insurgent. Meanwhile, Thompson and Sanborn study the bomb from a distance and, after determining that they are unable to defuse it, attach the robot to a small wagon loaded with charge. As soldiers of other units move pedestrians away from the area, the EOD team remotely guides the robot toward the bomb to blow it up under controlled circumstances in order to disable it. However, when the robot becomes incapacitated a few meters from the bomb’s location, Thompson, the team’s leader, dons a cumbersome protective suit and approaches the site, as Sanborn and Eldridge guard him against snipers and other hostiles. After re-setting the robot, Thompson is returning to his team, when an onlooker detonates the bomb using a cell phone and kills him in the blast. Later, after packing up Thompson’s effects to send to his family, Sanborn returns to the barracks and introduces himself to the commanding officer’s replacement, Staff Sergeant William James. On his first mission with Bravo Company, James impulsively decides to suit up and check out the bomb in person rather than use the robot. Against Sanborn’s advice, James walks confidently toward the suspected bomb, releasing a cloud of smoke from a canister. Although the smoke hides him from snipers, it also impairs his teammates’ ability to protect him. A taxi drives toward James, menacingly, but he pulls out a gun and points it at the driver. When the driver refuses to retreat, James first shoots to the side of the car, then fires at the windshield. After moments of tension, the driver backs away and is apprehended by another company of American soldiers assigned nearby. Continuing his task, James cuts the bomb’s fuse, and then, finding wires that lead to several other bombs, defuses them. Afterward, Sanborn, who believes it is safer to follow trusted procedures, criticizes James for his reckless behavior. Eager for their tour of duty to end, Eldridge points out that they have thirty-nine days left on their rotation and, later, discusses his anxieties with Colonel John Cambridge, an army psychologist who advises him not to obsess over death. The next morning, James is amused by an Iraqi boy selling bootlegged DVDs, who works for a merchant selling wares on the base. When the team is later sent to an area near a United Nations building, they find that a bomb has been placed in a parked car. As the team approaches the vehicle, along with several other soldiers sent to evacuate the building, a sniper shoots and sets the car afire. Despite the chaos, James calmly orders Sanborn to cover him from a roof above them, then puts out the fire with an extinguisher. After finding several unexploded bombs in the trunk of the car, James astonishes his teammates by removing his bulky protective gear before disabling them. Although he defuses the bombs, he spends extra time unnecessarily searching the passenger area of the car for their igniting system. For Eldridge, who spots a man videotaping him, the tension mounts as time passes. Communicating by radio headset, Sanborn tells James several times that they need to leave, but James, motivated by curiosity about the bombs, removes his headset so that his thoughts are not interrupted. Aware that men on top of a minaret are communicating with the camera man, Sanborn again warns James, then he and Eldridge take cover. Meanwhile, James finds the ignition device and returns to their Humvee feeling satisfied. However, when Sanborn catches up with James, he punches him in the face and tells him to never again take off his headset. More favorably impressed by James’s behavior is Colonel Reed, who introduces himself and, with admiration, declares that James is a “wild man.” On the base, James again encounters the Iraqi boy, who has nicknamed himself “Beckham” after a famous soccer player, and plays ball with him. Elsewhere, Eldridge tells Cambridge that his team leader will get him killed, but Cambridge suggests that he change his attitude, as war is a once in a lifetime opportunity and can be “fun.” Skeptical, Eldridge accuses the doctor of lacking field experience and suggests that he see what they really do. Having twenty-three days left on their rotation, the Bravo EOD team is sent to find and discharge bombs set in the desert. When James goes off alone to retrieve gloves inadvertently left in the firing zone, Sanborn tells Eldridge that detonators often misfire, and the two of them discuss what would happen to James if a similar incident “accidentally” happened. Shortly afterward, the team prepare for an altercation when they spot four men dressed in desert attire, but soon discover that the men, who are British contractors changing a flat tire, are friendly. Unexpectedly, several snipers fire from the safety of a distant building and kill three of the British men. After an exchange of gunfire, the survivor and the EOD team wait while Sanborn shoots the insurgents one by one, as he spots them. When Sanborn runs out of ammo, James orders Eldridge to get more from a backpack on one of the dead men. Blood on the cartridge causes it to jam, and while Eldridge cleans it, he has a panic attack. James helps him through it, then helps Sanborn spot the remaining snipers. After several successful shots, the desert becomes quiet, but the men wait, unable to trust that they are safe. When Eldridge spots movement on a bridge that is camouflaged by the presence of several goats, James orders him to “handle it,” and Eldridge shoots and kills the last sniper. On the base, Sanborn and James playfully spar with each other and Eldridge mischievously tells James that he is not very good with people, but a good warrior. When Sanborn expresses surprise upon learning that James has an infant son, James tells him that he and his girlfriend married when she became pregnant, then divorced, but continue to live together. Sanborn confides that the woman he likes wants children, but he is not ready. Sanborn and Eldridge are also surprised to find that James keeps a box of souvenirs from the bombs he has dismantled. James tells them that the box is full of things that almost killed him and feels he has proved the point when his wedding ring is found among the items. When the team has sixteen days left on their rotation, Cambridge asks to accompany them on what seems to be a “standard” mission. As James, Sanborn and Eldridge search a vacant warehouse for unexploded ordnances, the doctor waits outside. After silently exploring the building, the team finds American ammunition and equipment, as well as the corpse of a boy that has been implanted with a body bomb. Believing the boy was Beckham, James cuts open the corpse and reaches inside to pull out the bomb, then reverently carries the body out of the building. Meanwhile, Cambridge is approached by several Iraqis, whom he urges to move away for their own safety, and is then killed by an IED left by one of them. That night James, who is disturbed by Beckham’s murder, telephones his wife, but does not speak when she answers. The next day, he asks the DVD merchant about Beckham, but the man cannot speak English. Suspicious that the merchant is responsible for Beckham’s death, James enters the man’s car at the end of the work day and, at gunpoint, forces him to drive to Beckham’s house. The merchant takes him to a residence, which James surreptitiously enters. Wielding his gun, James threatens the resident, who tells him he is a professor. The man, who presumes that James works for the CIA, invites him to sit down, but when his wife enters and sees the gun, she yells at James and forces him out of the house. James then runs through the streets back to camp, where, at the gate, he is treated with suspicion by the guards, but eventually allowed to enter. That night, the team is sent to the site of a tank explosion to determine if it was caused by a suicide bomb. As they search the perimeter of a fire for evidence, James guesses that the explosion was detonated remotely and that the “trigger man” is in the dark beyond, laughing at them. When he decides to search for the culprits, Sanborn argues that the infantry platoons are on hand for that task. However, James, being the superior officer, overrides him and insists that they search the dark beyond the blast radius. Several minutes after he orders them to split up, gunshots prompt Sanborn and James to look for Eldridge, who has been shot in the leg. The next day, James discovers that Beckham is alive, but pretends to ignore him when the boy invites him to play soccer. The injured Eldridge is loaded onto a helicopter that will take him to a medical facility. Before leaving, Eldridge exchanges warm farewells with Sanborn, but accuses James of risking their lives with his reckless need for danger. Two days before the end of Bravo Company’s rotation, Sanborn and James are sent to a checkpoint where a man, who has bombs strapped to him, is begging for help. Translators explain that the man is not a suicide bomber, but a good family man who is being used against his will. Although Sanborn warns that the situation is too dangerous, James wants to help. He suits up and approaches the man, as Sanborn and others remain alert for snipers, but discovers that the bomb has a timer. Forced to acknowledge that he cannot save the man, James apologizes, then moves away to avoid being killed in the explosion. Afterward, Sanborn, who has been broken by the incident, admits that he hates the place and the job, and that he wants a son. When Sanborn asks James how he is able to take risks, James cannot explain why he can face danger so easily. Many days later, James is back home, shopping for groceries with his wife. He cleans the gutters of his house, then, as they prepare a meal, tells his wife stories about his experiences. While playing with his baby son, he tells the child that as one gets older, many things no longer seem special. He says that there are fewer things you really love, and confesses that he thinks he loves only one thing. James does not feel content until he returns to Iraq as a member of the Delta Company. 

Production Company: Voltage Pictures  
  First Light  
  Kingsgate Films  
  Grosvenor Park Media, LP  
Production Text: A Kathryn Bigelow film
Distribution Company: Summit Entertainment, LLC  
Director: Kathryn Bigelow (Dir)
  David Ticotin (1st asst dir)
  Lee Cleary (1st asst dir, Canadian unit)
  Nick Harvard (2d asst dir)
  Yanal Barakat (2d asst dir)
  Michelle Fitzpatrick (2d asst dir, Canadian unit)
  Ashley Bell (3d asst dir, Canadian unit)
  Dale Bredeson (Trainee asst dir, Canadian unit)
Producer: Kathryn Bigelow (Prod)
  Mark Boal (Prod)
  Nicolas Chartier (Prod)
  Greg Shapiro (Prod)
  Tony Mark (Exec prod)
  Donall McCusker (Co-prod)
  Jack Schuster (Assoc prod)
  Jenn Lee (Assoc prod)
  Kirk Shaw (Assoc prod, Canadian unit)
Writer: Mark Boal (Wrt)
Photography: Barry Ackroyd (Dir of photog)
  Niels Reedtz Johansen (Dir of photog, 2d unit)
  Tom Sigel (Dir of photog, Canadian unit)
  Stewart Whelan (1st asst cam)
  Oliver Driscoll (1st asst cam)
  Imad Rechiche (1st asst cam)
  Russell Kennedy (1st asst cam. 2d unit)
  David Lourie (1st asst A cam, Canadian unit)
  Robin Smith (1st asst B cam, Canadian unit)
  Thomas Taylor (2d asst cam)
  Glenn Coulman (2d asst cam)
  Mouna Khaali (2d asst cam)
  Max Glickman (2d asst cam, 2d unit)
  Jeremy Spofford (2d asst A cam, Canadian unit)
  Andy Capicik (2d asst B cam, Canadian unit)
  Ashraf Asa'ad (Coord, 2d unit)
  Beisan Elias (Cam asst)
  Tamer Naber (Cam asst)
  Russell Weber (Cam asst)
  Scott McDonald (Cam op)
  Duraid Munajim (Cam op)
  Dale Jahraus (B cam op, Canadian unit)
  Abdel Salam Hajj (Cam PA, 2d unit)
  Dory Aoun (Hi-speed cam op, Third Eye FX)
  Hammada El Baka (Generator op)
  Osama Namrouqa (Best boy elec)
  Geoff Dane (Best boy elec, Canadian unit)
  Bashir Mouawad (Elec)
  Elie Beaino (Elec)
  Firas Dihous (Elec)
  Bassel Slayebe (Elec)
  Melik Khazzoum (Elec)
  Issam Doury (Elec)
  Chady Chehade (Grip)
  Prince Khoury (Grip)
  Husny Bkhaa (Grip)
  Mher Keshishian (Key grip)
  Dave "Bucket" Walker (Key grip, Canadian unit)
  Elie Merhi (Best boy grip)
  Kris Grunewald (Best boy grip, Canadian unit)
  Jules Quesnel (Dolly grip, Canadian unit)
  Matthew Moffatt (Gaffer)
  Jim Swanson (Gaffer, Canadian unit)
  Osama Namrouqa (Best boy)
  Juniper Watters (Boom op, Canadian unit)
  Jonathan Olley (Stills photog)
  Ed Araquel (Stills photog, Canadian unit)
  Robert Finnigan (Loader, Canadian unit)
  Sami Sehweil (Video assist operator)
  Ali Shaheen (Asst video assist)
  Ahmad Takari (Asst video assist)
  Zeid Nawafleh (Asst video assist)
  Ice Films (Cameras and lenses)
  Fuji London (Film stock)
  Kodak (Film stock)
  Telemax/Platform (Grip/Elec equip)
Art Direction: Karl Júlíusson (Prod des)
  Paul Joyal (Prod des, Canadian unit)
  David Bryan (Art dir)
  Nadeer Ibrahim (Asst art dir)
  Sana'a Jaber (Standby asst art dir)
  Gary Thomas (Storyboard artist)
Film Editor: Bob Murawski (Ed)
  Chris Innis (Ed)
  Sean Valla (1st asst ed)
  Rupert Lloyd (Ed asst)
  Soho Images (Lab facilities by)
  Soho Images (Telecine by)
Set Decoration: Ameen Al-Masri (Set dec)
  Ian Nothnagel (Set dec, Canadian unit)
  Zacharia (Set dresser)
  Asad (Set dresser)
  Spencer West (On-set dresser, Canadian unit)
  Sara Rakhshandef (Set supv, Canadian unit)
  Mike Malik (Prop master)
  David Inkster (Props master, Canadian unit)
  Karim Kheir (Asst prop master)
  Nasser Zoubi (Standby props)
  Faris Ziyoud (Standby props)
  Samir Zaidan (Key scenic painter)
  Rime Al-Jaber (Asst scenic painter)
  Marwan Kheir (Const coord)
Costumes: George Little (Cost des)
  Vicki Mulholland (Cost des, Canadian unit)
  Daniel Lester (Asst cost des)
  Hanadi (Asst cost des)
  Moira Meyer (Cost supv)
  Rick De Souza (Set cost)
  Fadi Omeish (On-set cost)
  Phaedra Dahdaleh (On-set cost)
  Karma Hijjawi (Cost buyer)
  Melissa Binder (Cost ager)
  Blue Sole ("Suit" cost)
  Abed Al Fatah Rayan (Ward asst)
  Mohamed Mahseeri (Ward asst)
Music: Marco Beltrami (Mus)
  Buck Sanders (Mus)
  John Bissell (Mus supv)
  Sarah Ferguson (Mus coord)
  Julie Pearce (Mus ed)
  Joann Kane Music Services (Mus preparation by)
  Buck Sanders (Guitar performed by)
  Endre Granat (Violin performed by)
  Andrew Shulman (Cello performed by)
  Mike Valerio (Bass performed by)
  Karen Han (Erhu performed by)
  Yorgos Adamis (Voice and ethnic instruments)
  Peter Rotter (Musicians contracted by)
  John Kurlander (Mus mixed by)
Sound: Paul N. J. Ottosson (Sd des)
  Ray Beckett (Sd mixer)
  Paul N. J. Ottosson (Re-rec mixer)
  Craig Stauffer (Prod sd mixer, Canadian unit)
  Michael Kaz (Asst ed)
  Ryan Juggler (1st asst sd ed)
  Simon Bysshe (Boom op)
  Juniper Watters (Boom op, Canadian unit)
  The Final Word (ADR voice casting)
  Robert Troy (Dialogue/ADR ed)
  Kimberly Harris (Dialogue/ADR ed)
  Jamie Hardt (SFX ed)
  Bernard Weiser (SFX ed)
  Rick Franklin (SFX ed)
  Jack Schuster (Post prod supv)
  John Sanacore (Foley ed)
  Alex Ullrich (Foley ed)
Special Effects: Richard Stutsman (Spec eff supv)
  Blair Foord (Spec eff foreman)
  Ernst Gschwind (Spec eff foreman)
  Wolf Steiling (Spec eff tech)
  Ernst Lanninjer (Spec eff tech)
  Helmi Anadeen (Spec eff tech, Jordan)
  Rafiq Kamhawi (Spec eff purchaser)
  Mohammad Al Kurdi (Spec eff IED consultant)
  Mitch Gates (CGI supv, VFX)
  Tom Kendall (Visual eff prod, VFX)
  Gavin Miljkovich (Visual eff artist, VFX)
  Dave Neuberger (Visual eff artist, VFX)
  R. Edward Black (Visual eff artist, VFX)
  Doug Spilatro (Visual eff artist, VFX)
  Dan Lopez (CG artist, VFX)
  Kurt McKeever (CG artist, VFX)
  Changsoo Eun (CG artist, VFX)
  Rodrigo Washington (CG artist, VFX)
  David Camarena (I/O data management, VFX)
  Scarlet Letters (Titles)
Make Up: Daniel Parker (Hair and make-up des)
  Dana Michelle Hamel (Key make-up artist, Canadian unit)
  Janice Rhodes (Key hair stylist, Canadian unit)
  Elizabeth Rapley (Asst hair and makeup des)
  Yelka Gutierrez (Asst hair and makeup des)
  Robin Pritchard (Prosthetic makup artist)
  Animated Extras (Prosthetics by)
Production Misc: Mark Bennett (Casting)
  Lara Atalla (Jordan casting)
  Laura Brooke Toplass (Casting, Canadian unit)
  Setenay Ishak (Extras coord)
  Tony Mark (Unit prod mgr)
  Karima Ladjimi (Prod mgr)
  Rob Lycar (Prod mgr, Canadian unit)
  Aslaug Konradsdottir (Scr supv)
  Ana Sebal (Scr supv, Canadian unit)
  Yahya Shaheen (Prod asst)
  Bader Alami (Prod asst)
  Bassel Ghandour (Prod asst)
  Omar Swalha (Prod asst)
  Raya Qaraein (Prod asst)
  Mohamed Jawad (Prod asst)
  Theresa Guntli (Prod asst)
  Issa Matalka (Jordan pub)
  Fawaz Zoubi (Loc mgr)
  Jamie Lake (Loc mgr, Canadian unit)
  Haitham Kayed (Asst loc mgr)
  Mohamed "Gaba" Nawafleh (Loc asst)
  Ali Al Khalaileh (Loc asst)
  Campbell Sweeny (Scout, Canadian unit)
  Fuad Khalil (Prod consultant)
  Majd Hijjawi (Prod secy)
  Micah Gardener (Prod coord, Canadian unit)
  Jim McKeown (Prod coord, Canadian unit)
  Issa Sawaqed (Asst prod coord)
  Sandbag Productions (Jordanian prod services)
  Insight Film Studios (Canadian prod services)
  Debbie Chesebro (Prod accountant)
  Karen Austin (Prod accountant, Canadian unit)
  Mark Houston (1st asst accountant)
  Debbie Petersen (2d asst accountant)
  Leah Tanafranca (Payroll accountant, Canadian unit)
  Askadenia Catering Services (Catering)
  National Food Company (Catering)
  Nin Rai of Truffles (Catering Op, Canadian unit)
  Fadi Saraf (Craft services)
  Rodolfo Scali (Craft services/First aid, Canadian unit)
  J. Gibson (Prod supv)
  Imad Daoudi (Travel coord)
  Dean Fitzpatrick (Transportation coord, Canadian unit)
  Mahdi Nawafleh (Transportation mgr, stunts)
  Barrie Rice (Security)
  Darren Howard (Security captain, Canadian unit)
  CSM James Clifford USA/EOD, Retired (Military adv)
  Ben Thomas (Tech consultant)
  Barrie Rice (Tech consultant)
  Matthew Thompson (Tech consultant)
  Marwan Abadi (Jordanian military liason)
  David Fenci (Weapons specialist)
  Khalil Harb (Weapons asst)
  Chris Surber (Robot tech)
  Ziad Faraj (Prod runner)
  Zeid Darwazeh (Prod runner)
  David Morris (UK film runner)
  Breanne Hartley (Bus affairs, Canadian unit)
  Shannon McA'Nulty (Bus affairs, Canadian unit)
  John R. Scott (Asst to Ms. Bigelow)
  Omar Habibb (Asst to Mr. Boal)
  Andrea Ball (Asst to Mr. Chartier)
  Lara Sawalha (Asst to Mr. Mark)
  AON/Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services, Inc. (Insurance)
  Eisner & Frank (Legal services)
  Doran Chandler (Prod counsel, Canadian unit, Roberts & Stahl)
  Stone Management (Product placement)
  Adam Stone (Product placement coord)
  Cat Stone (Product placement coord)
  Entertainment Partners (Payroll company)
  Fintage Cam B.V. (Collection account management)
  Grosvenor Park Media, LP (Financing provided by)
  Cinefinance Insurance Services, LLC (Completion guaranty provided by)
  Charles Taylor Movie Armaments Group (U.S. military equip provided by)
  John Earey (Med-Eng)
  Mark Kauchak (Remotec, Inc..)
  Jim Daniels (Remotec, Inc.)
  Royce Hollman (Remotec, Inc.)
  Chris Boal (EPK)
  Amer Al Dweik (EPK asst)
Stand In: Robert Young (Stunt coord)
  Barrie Rice (Stunt co-coord)
  Antonio Marsh (Stunts)
  Isaac Hamon (Stunts)
Color Personnel: Gilbert Carreras (Deluxe labs color timer)
  Stephen Nakamura (Colorist, Company 3)
  Company 3 (Digital intermediate and vis eff)
  Stefan Sonnenfeld (CO3 exec prod)
  Erik Rogers (DI prod, Company 3)
  Alex Romano (On-line ed/VFX artist, Company 3)
  Mike Chiado (DI technologist, Company 3)
  Bruce Lomet (Head of prod, Company 3)
  Jackie Lee (VP, feature sales, Company 3)
  Michael Boggs (DI scanning supv, Company 3)
  Ian Turpen (DI scanner, Company 3)
  Michael Coronado (Digital dirt removal, Company 3)
  James Cody Baker (DI asst, Company 3)
  Jeremiah Morey (DI asst, Company 3)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Fear (Is Big Business)," written by Jourgensen/Victor/Ministry, performed by Ministry, courtesy of 13th Planet Records, Inc.; "Palestina," written by Jourgensen/Victor/Ministry, performed by Ministry, courtesy of 13th Planet Records, Inc.; "Your Smiling Face," written by Norman Candler, performed by The Norman Candler Strings, courtesy of APM Music; "Khyber Pass," written by Jourgensen/Ministry/Raven/Victor, performed by Ministry, courtesy of 13th Planet Records, Inc.
Composer: Norman Candler
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Hurt Locker, LLC 0/0/2008 dd/mm/yyyy  

PCA NO: 45024
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Digital in selected theatres

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: War
Subjects (Major): Bombs
  Death and dying
  Military occupation
  United States. Army
Subjects (Minor): Abduction
  Americans in foreign countries
  English in foreign countries
  Fathers and sons
  Military bases
  Officers (Military)
  Suicide bombers
  War injuries

Note: After the film opens with the Summit Entertainment logo, an onscreen written statement appears that reads: “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug. –Chris Hedges.” Most of the words are then removed from the screen, leaving only the words, “war is a drug.” Hedges, the author of the quote, was a former war correspondent for the NYT . There are no other opening credits. Various times throughout the film, an onscreen written statement over the action counts down the number of “Days left in Bravo Company’s Rotation.” At the end of the film, when “Staff Sergeant William James” (Jeremy Renner) returns to Iraq, an onscreen written statement reads: “Days left in Delta Company’s Rotation: 365”. The end credits contain a “special thanks” to His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, His Royal Highness Prince Hussein Nasser Mirza, Her Royal Highness Princess Rym Al Ali, His Excellency Ambassador Timoor Ghazi Daghistani, the Royal Jordanian Film Commission and several other individuals and organizations who supported filming in Jordan and provided assistance. A second acknowledgment lists individuals and companies the “producers also wished to thank.” The title of the film is a reference to bomb unit personnel jargon that refers to explosions as “putting you in ‘the hurt locker.’”
       The film is set in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004, during the Iraq War, which had begun in Mar 2003. According to the production notes on the film, that year there were only one hundred and fifty-nine trained Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians in Iraq, and they had been carefully selected, screened and schooled for the job. Production notes stated that the techs were five times more likely to die than all other soldiers in that theater and that Iraqi insurgents reportedly placed a $25,000 bounty on the heads of EOD technicians. Technicians also suffered troubles in their personal relationships and an in-house joke among the soldiers was that EOD was an acronym for “every one divorced.”
       Screenwriter and journalist Mark Boal’s works have appeared in Playboy , Rolling Stone and the Village Voice . An article he published in Playboy in 2004, titled “Death and Dishonor,” was the basis for the 2007 Warner Independent Pictures film, In the Valley of Elah , which was also set during the Iraq War. According to The Hurt Locker ’s production notes, Boal was embedded with a U.S. Army bomb squad for several weeks in 2004 and his experiences inspired him to write a screenplay about what he learned. In Sep 2005, Boal’s article about his experiences, “The Man in the Bomb Suit,” appeared in Playboy . Although the film does not cite the article as the basis for The Hurt Locker and the film was later entered for Academy consideration in the Original Screenplay category, some of the experiences recounted in the article appear in the film. According to a 29 Aug 2008 Screen International article, after writing the Playboy article, Boal approached director Kathryn Bigelow, with whom he had previously collaborated. The Hurt Locker ’s production notes state that Bigelow and Boal decided to produce a suspense-filled, character-driven film that avoided polemics and placed the audience in the midst of the tension and unpredictability of war that is experienced daily by EOD technicians. Working under the guidance of Bigelow, Boal wrote seventeen drafts of the script before the final version, according to the production notes, and they continued to make minor changes during filming, in order to take advantage of the geography of the shooting locations.
       According to a 13 Dec 2009 HR article, the major studios were uninterested in the project, as they either had a film about Iraq in development or had produced films on the subject that did not do well at the box office. Also working against The Hurt Locker project was the fact that Bigelow had not made a feature film since her 2002 movie, K-19 The Widowmaker . The production notes report that Bigelow approached financier Nicolas Chartier, who raised funds for the project through his independent company, Voltage Pictures, of which he was co-founder (with producer Dean Devlin). The 13 Dec 2009 HR article reported that Bigelow was interested in using young breakout actors for the leads, in order to keep the audience guessing as to which characters would live and die. In the production notes, Bigelow stated that there is a “convention” in film stories that the “star” does not die until the end of the film, and she wanted to depict the unpredictability of war, in which death can happen to anyone at anytime. However, Chartier was concerned that they needed a bankable actor to recoup the $30 million that had been budgeted for the production. According to the 13 Dec 2009 HR and a 6 Sep 2008 LAT article, the filmmakers scouted in Morocco, and considered making the film on a $20 million budget by cutting one or more action sequences in the script.
       The 13 Dec 2009 HR article stated that a friend of Boal’s family had connections with someone in the CIA, who suggested shooting the film in Jordan, where the capital city of Amman had architecture similar to Baghdad. The Jordanian royal family provided unprecedented levels of cooperation, including the use of military equipment. An 18 Sep 2008 HR article stated that the royal family was committed to the growth of the country’s film industry and saw an opportunity to show the country’s movie-making potential, as well as safety for Westerners to shoot there. The Hurt Locker ’s activity in Jordan resulted in the creation of a film intern program, and the opening of the country’s first film school, The Red Sea Institute for the Cinematic Arts.
       In the 18 Sep 2008 HR article, which compared the costs of filming in Jordan to Morocco, it was reported that filmmakers had to ship more equipment to Jordan, but that the rates were less costly, and according to the 13 Dec 2009 HR article, the filmmakers were able to produce the film for around $15 million. According to the same HR article, when the production lost a line producer, a bond company threatened to pull out and the first three weeks of principal production, which began in Jul 2007, occurred without a local bank. Although, according to the article, the filmmakers hired local Jordanians and displaced Iraqis, many of whom were professional actors, and created interpersonal connections with the local people. The article stated that while the company was filming in Mdaba, near a refugee camp, children watching the shoot would clap after each take.
       According to a 17 Jul 2007 HR news item, shooting, which was scheduled to begin the following week, would take place in Jordan and Kuwait. However, according to a 25 Feb 2010 LAT article, the film originally had the support of the U.S. Department of Defense and had been given clearance to film at an Army logistics base in Kuwait, but lost that support when Army officials believed that scenes were being shot that had not been in the script submitted for their approval. According to the above LAT article, none of the film was not shot on the Kuwait base. The production notes stated that portions of the film were shot west of Baghdad, a few hours from combat areas, and in and around the poorer areas of Amman. The film was shot with four handheld cameras in forty-four days, during which cast and crew worked six days a week. According to the production notes, the actors were housed together in a communal tent with dirt floors, which encouraged them to remain in character when not filming. Although the actual suits worn by bomb squad personnel weigh about one hundred forty pounds, the protective suits used in the film that were made from Kevlar fabric and ceramic plates weighed about seventy pounds, but still added to the actors’ discomfort, as the Jordanian summer temperatures reached 130 to 135 degrees. The lead actors received instruction before production in California’s Mojave Desert at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin where the Army’s EOD teams are trained. According to a 2 Dec 2009 DV article, most of the audio for the film was captured on location in Jordan rather than dubbed in the studio, which added to the authenticity of the film.
       At the 2008 Venice International Film Festival, The Hurt Locker earned four awards, including the SIGNIS and Human Rights Film award, and was nominated for the Golden Lion. At the Toronto International Film Festival the film won The Screen Jury competition for the best reviewed film of the festival. Shortly after the festival in Toronto, Summit Entertainment purchased the domestic distribution rights for $1.5 million, according to the 13 Dec 2009 HR article.
       Although The Hurt Locker did not do well at the box office at the time of its release, it garnered many critical awards, among them, selection by AFI as one of ten Movies of the Year. The film received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture--Drama; Best Director--Motion Picture and Best Screenplay--Motion Picture. SAG nominations included Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Male Actor in a Leading Role (Renner). The film won the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award, Bigelow won the DGA Award, and Boal was nominated for Best Original Screenplay by the WGA. Karl Júlíusson was nominated by the Art Directors Guild for the Excellence in Production Design Award--Contemporary Category. Renner and Anthony Mackie (“Sergeant JT Sanborn”) were nominated for Independent Spirit Awards for Best Male Lead and Best Supporting Male, respectively. Among the many other awards the film received, NBR named The Hurt Locker one of the top ten films of the year and Renner was lauded for Breakthrough Performance by an Actor. The film received awards from the New York Film Critics Circle for Best Picture and Best Director. The Los Angeles Film Critics awarded the film for Best Director and Best Picture, and named Ackroyd a runner-up in the Best Cinematographer category.
       Shortly before the Academy Award ceremonies, the film was involved in several controversies. In violation of Academy rules, Chartier emailed several Academy members, asking that they vote for The Hurt Locker rather than one of its heavily financed competitors, Avatar . Chartier was forced by the organization to forfeit his tickets to the ceremony and later apologized. According to a 25 Feb 2010 LAT article, although the        The Hurt Locker had been praised for its authenticity by critics and viewers, including a Purple Heart recipient and some Pentagon officials, other military personnel faulted the film for inaccuracies and for its portrayal of bomb squad personnel as “renegades.” The film encountered further controversy when a former explosives ordinance disposal technician, with whom Boal had worked while embedded with the bomb squad, filed a lawsuit against the producers of The Hurt Locker , claiming that Renner’s character was a veiled depiction of himself, and a defamation of his character that inflicted emotional distress. As of Mar 2010, the case had not been resolved.
The Hurt Locker won an Academy Award for Best Picture and Bigelow was the first woman in Academy history to win an award for Directing. The film also won Academy Awards for Writing-Original Screenplay, Film Editing (Bob Murawski and Chris Innes), Sound Editing (Paul N.J. Ottosson), and Sound Mixing(Ottosson and Ray Beckett), and was nominated for Actor in a Leading Role (Renner) and Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   2 Dec 2009.   
Hollywood Reporter   17 July 2007.   
Hollywood Reporter   18 Sep 2008.   
Hollywood Reporter   13 Dec 2009.   
Los Angeles Times   6 Sep 2008.   
Los Angeles Times   26 Jun 2009.   
Los Angeles Times   25 Feb 2010.   
New York Times   26 Jun 2009   p. 1, 10.
Screen International   10 Nov 2006.   
Screen International   29 Aug 2008.   
Variety   8 Sep 2009   p. 16, 21.

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