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The Hurt Locker

September 8, 2015

THLThe Hurt Locker is based on accounts of Mark Boal, a freelance journalist who was covered an American bomb squad in the war in Iraq for two weeks in 2004. , he went with the members 10 to 15 times a day to watch their tasks, keeping in touch with Bigelow via email about his experiences. Boal combined his experiences into a fictional retelling of real events. He said of the film’s goal, “The idea is that 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, and I don’t mean that in a censorship-conspiracy way. I just mean the news doesn’t actually put photographers in with units that are this elite.” Bigelow was fascinated with exploring “the psychology behind the type of soldier who volunteers for this particular conflict and then, because of his or her aptitude, is chosen and given the opportunity to go into bomb disarmament and goes toward what everybody else is running from.”

An elite bomb disposal unit is put under pressure by its new commander (Sgt William James), who’s addicted to the adrenaline rush of war. The unit only has a month or so left of their tour of duty in Iraq. However, James is indifferent to danger, doing things the hard way and putting the lives of his men in danger.

Themes: War, courage, fear, family.

A production bus full of Iraqi refugees (hired as extras) overturned on a road heading to production. Nobody was seriously injured. A few people suffered bruises and one person was reported to have a broken nose.
Several key American crew members were stopped and questioned and/or had their baggage rummaged through by American airport security prior to going and/or coming back from Jordan. Even one of the producers was held for questioning upon returning to Los Angeles.
Part of the shooting took place during the Muslim month of Ramadan, which is observed by fasting from sunrise to sundown. Non-Muslim crew members hid out and ate in tents and specialty hotels with windows covered by carpets (out of respect, and per the Jordanian law). Smoking, eating or drinking in public during daylight hours is banned in many Middle Eastern countries during Ramadan, including Jordan, and is punishable with jail time.
The crew members were American, Jordanian, Lebanese, English, Irish, German, Moroccan, Danish, Tunisian, Canadian, South African, Icelandic, Iraqi, Libyan, Circassian, Palestinian, Armenian, Swedish, Australian, Canadian, and New Zealanders.
The expression “the hurt locker” is slang for a situation involving trouble or pain, which can be traced back to the Vietnam War. According to the movie’s website, it is soldier vernacular in Iraq to speak of explosions as sending you to “the hurt locker”.
THL 2Guard at Liberty Gate: [after catching James coming back into the camp after having snuck out] What were you doing out there?
Staff Sergeant William James: Visiting a whorehouse.
Guard at Liberty Gate: Okay. If I let you back in, will you tell me where it is exactly?

 

Staff Sergeant William James: There’s enough bang in there to blow us all to Jesus. If I’m gonna die, I want to die comfortable.

Sergeant JT Sanborn: I’m ready to die, James.
Staff Sergeant William James: Well, you’re not gonna die out here, bro.
Sergeant JT Sanborn: Another two inches, shrapnel zings by; slices my throat- I bleed out like a pig in the sand. Nobody’ll give a shit. I mean my parents- they care- but they don’t count, man. Who else? I don’t even have a son.
Staff Sergeant William James: Well, you’re gonna have plenty of time for that, amigo.
Sergeant JT Sanborn: Naw, man. I’m done. I want a son. I want a little boy, Will. I mean, how do you do it, you know? Take the risk?
Staff Sergeant William James: I don’t know. I guess I don’t think about it.
Sergeant JT Sanborn: But you realize every time you suit up, every time we go out, it’s life or death. You roll the dice, and you deal with it. You recognize that don’t you?
Staff Sergeant William James: Yea… Yea, I do. But I don’t know why.
[sighs]
Staff Sergeant William James: I don’t know, JT. You know why I’m the way I am?
Sergeant JT Sanborn: No, I don’t.

 

Staff Sergeant William James: This box is full of stuff that almost killed me.

Contractor Team Leader: We have a flat tire, can you help us?
Staff Sergeant William James: Sure, yeah. You got any spares?
Contractor Team Leader: Well, we have spares, but we used up our wrench.
Staff Sergeant William James: How do you use up a wrench?
Contractor Team Leader: Well, the uh, guy over there with the red thing on his head, he threw it at someone.
Staff Sergeant William James: Ha ha! Alright.
[gives thumbs up to Eldridge]
Contractor Team Leader: Thank you.
[introduces the soldiers]
Contractor Team Leader: This is Chris. This is the wrench man.
Staff Sergeant William James: Hello, Wrench Man.
Contractor Team Leader: That’s Jimmy.
Sergeant JT Sanborn: You know you can shoot people here. You don’t have to throw wrenches.
Contractor Feisal: Fuck off!

Opening Quote by Chris Hedges: The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.

THL 3Colonel Reed: You the guy in the flaming car, Sergeant James?
Staff Sergeant William James: Afternoon, sir. Uh, yes, sir.
Colonel Reed: Well, that’s just hot shit. You’re a wild man, you know that?
Staff Sergeant William James: Uh, yes, sir.
Colonel Reed: He’s a wild man. You know that? I want to shake your hand.
Staff Sergeant William James: Thank you, sir.
Colonel Reed: Yeah. How many bombs have you disarmed?
Staff Sergeant William James: Uh, I’m not quite sure.
Colonel Reed: Segeant?
Staff Sergeant William James: Yes, sir.
Colonel Reed: I asked you a question.
Staff Sergeant William James: Eight hundred seventy-three, sir.
Colonel Reed: Eight hundred! And seventy-three. Eight hundred! And seventy-three. That’s just hot shit. Eight hundred and seventy-three.
Staff Sergeant William James: Counting today, sir, yes.
Colonel Reed: That’s gotta be a record. What’s the best way to… go about disarming one of these things?
Staff Sergeant William James: The way you don’t die, sir.
Colonel Reed: That’s a good one. That’s spoken like a wild man. That’s good.

Spc. Owen Eldridge: Aren’t you glad the Army has all these tanks parked here? Just in case the Russians come and we have to have a big tank battle?
Sergeant JT Sanborn: I’d rather be on the side with the tanks, just in case, than not have them.
Spc. Owen Eldridge: Yeah, but they don’t do anything. I mean, anyone comes alongside a Humvee, we’re dead. Anybody even looks at you funny, we’re dead. Pretty much the bottom line is, if you’re in Iraq, you’re dead. How’s a fucking tank supposed to stop that?
Sergeant JT Sanborn: Would you shut the fuck up, Owen?
Spc. Owen Eldridge: Sorry. Just tryin’ to scare the new guy.

Sergeant JT Sanborn: I can’t get it in.
Sgt. Matt Thompson: What do you mean you can’t get it in? Pretend it’s your dick.
Sergeant JT Sanborn: How about I pretend it’s your dick?
Sgt. Matt Thompson: Well in that case you’ll never get it in.

Staff Sergeant William James: [Speaking to his son] You love playing with that. You love playing with all your stuffed animals. You love your Mommy, your Daddy. You love your pajamas. You love everything, don’t ya? Yea. But you know what, buddy? As you get older… some of the things you love might not seem so special anymore. Like your Jack-in-a-Box. Maybe you’ll realize it’s just a piece of tin and a stuffed animal. And the older you get, the fewer things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it’s only one or two things. With me, I think it’s one.

Staff Sergeant William James: Everyone’s scared about something, you know?

Staff Sergeant William James: You’ll get it, though. You’ll get it.

Staff Sergeant William James: [to Iraqi street kid] I wanna buy another DVD. But, if it’s shaky – look at me – out of focus, or any way not 100%, I’m gonna chop off your head with a dull knife. How do you feel about – I’m just kidding, I’m just kidding
[hands him his money]
Staff Sergeant William James: you’re a good kid,
[hugging kid’s head]
Staff Sergeant William James: you’re a good kid, aren’t ya…

Sergeant JT Sanborn: [as team mate approaches unexploded bomb] You know, these detonators misfire all the time.
Spc. Owen Eldridge: What are you doing?
Sergeant JT Sanborn: I’m just saying shit happens, they misfire.
Spc. Owen Eldridge: He’d be obliterated to nothing.
Sergeant JT Sanborn: His helmet would be left. You could have that. Little specs of hair charred on the inside.
Spc. Owen Eldridge: Yeah. There’d be half a helmet somewhere, bits of hair.
Sergeant JT Sanborn: Have to ask for a change in technique and protocol, and make sure this type of accident never happen again, you know? You’d have to write the report.
Spc. Owen Eldridge: Are you serious?
Sergeant JT Sanborn: I can’t write it.

Staff Sergeant William James: – Victory? ‘Thought it was Camp Liberty.
Sergeant JT Sanborn: – Oh, no. They changed it ’bout a week ago. Victory sound’ better.

Staff Sergeant William James: Everyone’s a coward about something.

Colonel Reed: ‘What’s the best way to disarm a bomb?’
Sgt. James: ‘The way you don’t die.’

On returning home, James says to his son, ‘The older you get, the fewer things you love. With me, I think it’s only one.’

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