A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this war drama/thriller is full of very realistic, graphic violence and danger -- shootings, death by explosion, images of dead bodies -- the consequences of these acts are never taken lightly, and they're never depicted as mere "action." Ultimately, it's an intellectually and philosophically stimulating movie that offers parents and older teens the chance to talk about everything from current events to the overall human condition. That said, you can also expect lots of strong language (including many uses of "f--k"), some smoking and drinking, and some crude jokes/sex references.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Set in 2004, THE HURT LOCKER follows the day-to-day work of the soldiers in an Army Explosives Ordinance Demolition (EOD) team -- aka the bomb squad -- as they find and defuse the improvised explosive devices that are the Iraq insurgency's most effective weapon. As new team leader Sgt. James (Jeremy Renner) works alongside Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), audiences get an insight into the minds and hearts of these soldiers -- and how, for some of them, life in the Army dealing with explosives feels easier to handle than life in the civilian world dealing with everything else.
Is it any good?
Combining intellectual and philosophical ambition with gut-wrenching, visceral action, The Hurt Locker is unquestionably one of the best films of 2009. It's also a great movie, period, full of excitement, action, graveyard comedy, and brilliant filmmaking technique.
Director Kathyn Bigelow (Point Break, Strange Days) co-scripted The Hurt Locker with journalist Mark Boal, who was embedded with Army EOD soldiers in 2004; the realism of the script and staging doesn't impede the movie's excitement and dramatic satisfaction but rather makes it all the more rewarding. The characters are real and their situation is real -- and that matter-of-fact approach to the material makes it even more excruciating as James and his men try to figure out how to dismantle bombs in circumstances where failure means death for dozens of people. Yes, The Hurt Locker is violent and tense and bloody, but so is war. Gripping, exciting, and matching brains with brawn, The Hurt Locker's shattering explosions and quieter questions will both echo in your head long after it's done.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. How does what's shown here compare to the explosions and shoot-'em-up scenes of more mainstream Hollywood blockbusters? Which has more impact?
How does the movie portray the United States' invasion of Iraq? Is it different from the way it's been presented in other movies and TV shows? How so?
Is Sgt. James a hero or a fool? Does he take unnecessary risks or necessary ones? Does his attachment to a local Iraqi boy improve either of their lives?
For kids who love action
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.