The Hurt Locker is a 2009 American war thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Shot in Jordan, the film is based on recently declassified information about a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) (bomb squad) team in present day Iraq. The Hurt Locker is written by Mark Boal, a freelance writer who was embedded with a bomb squad.
edit this info
The Hurt Locker was picked up by distributor Summit Entertainment. The film was released in the U.S. on June 26, 2009 in New York and Los Angeles, going wider on July 24, 2009.
The Hurt Locker follows a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit as it works to defuse a series of improvised explosive devices (IED) in the streets of Iraq.
When the team's long-time bomb technician is killed, he is quickly replaced with the intelligent but impulsive Sergeant First Class William James. Team members Sergeant JT Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge are initially disturbed by William's reckless behavior, but they learn to work together as a unit. It soon becomes apparent that William actually craves the feeling of mortal danger that he experiences while defusing bombs.
As the unit deals with one explosive device after another, it confronts the unpredictable and extreme violence of a growing Iraqi insurgency. Team members struggle constantly to distinguish enemy insurgents from innocent Iraqis and to protect themselves while avoiding civilian casualties. As the group's tour of duty draws to a close, each member suffers visibly from the psychological strain of war. They begin to display guilt, helplessness, random aggression and a strong desire for revenge.
When the group's tour of duty ends only William chooses to return to Iraq. He discovers that he is hopelessly addicted to his work in the military and unfit for civilian life.
The Hurt Locker stars Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie, with appearances by Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, Brian Geraghty, and Evangeline Lilly.
The script was written by first-time screenwriter Mark Boal, a freelance writer who has contributed to Playboy, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone magazines and who also wrote the short story that inspired the film In the Valley of Elah. Boal spent time embedded with a real bomb squad, which was a source for the story.
Other members of the key filmmaking crew include director of photography Barry Ackroyd, film editors Chris Innis and Bob Murawski, production designer Karl Júlíusson, production sound mixer Ray Beckett, and costume designer George Little. The film's real explosions and special effects were designed by Richard Stutsman and his team. The score was composed by Academy Award nominated composer Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.
The Hurt Locker was shot mainly on location in the Middle East, over forty-four days from July to September 2007, during the height of the Iraq war surge. Often four or more camera crews filmed simultaneously, which resulted in nearly 200 hours of footage. There were also two days of pick up shots filmed in or around Vancouver, Canada, to accommodate home town actress Evangeline Lilly.
Although the filmmakers scouted for locations in Morocco, director Kathryn Bigelow sought greater authenticity and decided to film in Jordan because of its close proximity to Iraq. Some of the locations were less than three miles from the Iraqi border. All the Iraqi roles in the film were played by displaced Iraqi war refugees living in Jordan, many of them trained actors who had been forced to flee their country. They included roles by Suhail Aldabbach, Nabil Koni, Feisal Sadoun, Imad Dadudi, Hasan Darwish, Wasfi Amour, Nibras Quassem, Nader Tarawneh and very notably Christopher Sayegh in the role of "Beckham", the Iraqi street vendor kid who befriends Staff Sergeant William James played by Jeremy Renner.
Lead actor Jeremy Renner, who trained with real EOD teams prior to shooting the film, says that great pains were taken to ensure the film's authenticity. According to Renner, shooting the film in the Middle East contributed to this. "There were two by fours with nails being dropped from two-story buildings that hit me in the helmet and they were throwing rocks... we got shot at a few times while we were filming," Renner said. "When you see it, you're gonna feel like you've been in war."
"You can't fake that amount of heat," Anthony Mackie who plays Sgt. Sanborn says, adding, "When you are on set and all of the extras are Iraqi refugees, it really informs the movie that you're making. When you start hearing the stories from a true perspective... of people who were actually there, it gives you a clear viewpoint of where you are as an artist and the story you would like to tell. It was a great experience to be there."
According to screenwriter Boal, "It's the first movie about the Iraq war that purports to show the experience of the soldiers." "We wanted to show the kinds of things that soldiers go through that you can't see on CNN." He adds, "Most war movies don't come out until after the war is over. It's really exciting for me, coming out of the world of journalism, to have a movie come out about a conflict while the conflict is still going on."