The Hurt Locker Movie Poster Image

The Hurt Locker



Violent, complex Iraq war drama is rough, tough, thrilling.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie isn't afraid to tackle tough questions without easy answers. If war is, in fact, hell, then why is it so exciting? If the United States' liberation of Iraq was so welcome, why do insurgents fill the streets with explosive devices? Why do the men of the Army's Explosive Ordinance Demolitions group choose to do this work? Are there abstract -- or real -- political goals worth giving one's life for?

Positive role models

The movie offers a complex portrait of the high-stakes work of volunteer Army and soldiers in Iraq -- and the characters consequently have many shades of gray. Are the men who do this work lunatics or heroes? Is there any "safe" way to defuse bombs in a war zone? Is the reckless work of Sgt. James the bravery of a champion or the recklessness of a fool?


Extensive realistic war violence, including (but not limited to) explosions, shootings, fighting, and more. Characters are killed on-screen by bombs and wounded by bullets, dead bodies are seen (including one of a young boy that's intended to contain a bomb -- like a grisly Trojan Horse), and there's lots of blood.


Some crude jokes and references to sexual activity; mild cleavage.


Strong language throughout, including "f--k" (and its variations), "s--t," "dick," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "oh God," and more -- it's a realistic interpretation of the the vulgar, salty talk of soldiers in a combat zone.


Scenes set in grocery stores include some visible brands.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke and also drink to excess in one scene.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 26, 2009
DVD/Streaming release date:January 12, 2010
Cast:Evangeline Lilly, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes
Director:Kathryn Bigelow
Studio:Summit Entertainment
Run time:131 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:war violence and language

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Parent Written byagenthappyman July 20, 2012

War violence

Lots of alcohal use, war violence, and religious exclamanitions.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byGoodActionMovieFan7 August 5, 2012

Movie reviews from a teenager: The Hurt Locker

Wow. I've never been this moved by a movie before. 'The Hurt Locker' is tough, serious, moving and very well put together. This movie, Jeremy Renner and all of the actors were outstanding. The concept, story, everything was just, whoa. Here is the list of content that parents might want to consider. Language: frequent uses of 'f**k', 'sh**', 'da**', 'a**', 'b***h' and other expletives. The film contains the realistic use of salty language used in a warzone. In one scene, Will gives another teammate 'the finger'. Violence: This is a war movie, so there is a lot of violence in the film. Many explosions occur in the film. A person has a bomb strapped to them and is blown up, a boy's body is found with a bomb inside the body and is gruesomely removed. Blood is shown on characters after close calls, blood is shown splattering after characters are shot. Many people are shot and killed and blood is shown frequently. Two soldiers have a brief brawl, a few punches are exchanged. Positive role models: The main character, Will James, (Jeremy Renner), is a 'live on the edge' kind of guy, who enjoys the thrill of almost dying. This quality is not what I'd particularly call good, but later in the movie Will realizes how he puts others in danger with his actions. He is brave (to the point of foolishness) and calm in tight and dangerous situations. But is being fearless always a good thing? Overall I'd give this movie five stars because it simply deserves it. 'The Hurt Locker' is definately one of my all-time favorite movies now. I would suggest that ages 16 and up see this due to the movie's graphic content.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old April 12, 2010

It is fine for a ten year old.

Great movie. MUst see watch it.


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