The Hurt Locker (Blu-ray Review)

The Hurt LockerOver time, there have been several upon several World War II and Vietnam films; some good, some not so good.  As the war on two fronts in the Middle East continues, we have seen a scattering of films here and there highlighting these new conflicts.  As time goes on, we will likely see more.  One such film that fills the current void and made it’s Blu-ray debut this week is The Hurt Locker.  In short, this picture follows an EOD team in Iraq.  What is an EOD team?  What do they do?  How dangerous is their occupation?  Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more.


This film has had some buzz here on Why So Blu, specifically last month.  Those that saw it seemed pretty high on the film so when it came out on Blu-ray January 12th, I jumped in head first and got the steelbook packaged version on a blind buy.  I’m not entirely sure why I did that.  My track record on blind buys isn’t the best and I was going on other people’s hype.  Heck, I’m the guy who got shoes thrown at me for loving Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (sue me!).  If I’m in that much disagreement with most others on here, what makes me think I’d like this movie?  Good news.  I loved it. 

You want nail-biting tension?  Here’s your title.  The Hurt Locker runs 130 minutes and consistently keeps the story’s fire burning.  We follow three soldiers, team leader Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner), Sgt. JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), and Spc. Owen Eldgridge (Brian Geraghty).  They comprise the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team that goes out and defuses the roadside bombs and IED’s we hear about so often on the nightly news.  

James enters the fray after the team recently lost their previous leader.  His ‘too cool’ attitude and casualness doesn’t gel well with Sanborn and the allied friction begins.  If you want a front row seat to “What do I cut?  The red wire?  The blue one?” then add The Hurt Locker to your viewing list.  The camera views are simply gripping as the third-person shots leave you wondering if you are just watching from another point of view or if you are witnessing the EOD’s actions through a possible sniper’s eyes.  Combine that with the first-person views of approaching a buried explosive device from inside a bomb-blast suit and you will find out exactly what a rough day at work means.  

Director Kathryn Bigelow struck gold with this production.  The tenacity of the characters and the situations they find themselves in grabs you by the wrist and pulls you in for the experience.  Quite likely, a great deal of this realism is due in part to Screenwriter/Producer Mark Boal spending time in Iraq with a real EOD team.  You want to learn how sharks live?  You jump in the water with them.  You want to know what a day at the office is like for an EOD team?  You ride with one and watch as they disarm and dissect the fireworks of all those wacko extremists.  How do I keep going without giving too much away while still trying to relay my exuberance of this film?  I don’t.  Buy it.  Rent it.  Either way, experience this very under-publicized film on Blu-ray and prepare to have your heart skip a beat.

The Hurt Locker 


The Hurt Locker is viewed in a 1.77:1 aspect ratio with an AVC encode in 1080p.  The clarity only adds to the realism brought to us with convincing brilliance by the actors.  The earth-tone palette is as vibrant as tan and beige can be in the desert environment and if you are a pore whore, you’re in luck here.  I’m not going to say it has the clarity of Crank throughout, but it does look good.  There are  scenes that do have a bit of flickering grain, though it’s not enough to pose a distraction.  There is, however, a short night sequence that is as rough as an old country road.  We’re talking enough grain to feed all the Somali pirates and their bastard kids.  Unfortunately, it was more than enough to draw my attention away from the dialogue for the brief moment that it played.  I guess it’s to be expected in the high def, low light shoot.  Still, this was a big enough to drop the score a bit.  Night shots can be done without the visual noise. 

 The Hurt Locker


Wow.  If I was given one syllable and three letters to describe the film’s audio, well, there you have it.  There is one scene in particular where a helicopter’s rotor blades kick in and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was at that base right under that bird as it was about to take off.  The explosions in the film bring your sub-woofer to life and the raining descent of sand and pebbles is beautifully experienced through the front and rear channels.  Even the hurried scamper of people on the run is captured with audible realism through the back speakers as a shaken Iraqi makes their exit out of the camera’s view.  The only thing that kept this attribute from achieving a perfect score was the fact that some scenes, though just a few, could have benefited more from that same realism.  Basically it was a matter of, “Well if you made sound great from left to right in that scene, why didn’t you do it this one too?”  Yes, I’m digging deep for a flaw on this one. 

 The Hurt Locker

Special Features 

As the Guinness guys say, “Brilliant!”  Finally!  Do you realize how long it’s been since watched a film on Blu-ray that had its extras in high def?  Me neither but my point is The Hurt Locker delivers.  There isn’t a huge arsenal of goodies to go around here but I enjoyed what the disc offered and they didn’t flood the extras landscape with weak content.  Good work to the team who put this one together! 

  • Audio Commentary
  • The Hurt Locker: Behind the Scenes – At just over 7 minutes, you’ll find some brief but interesting discussions with some of the cast, writer/producer Mark Boal, and director Kathryn Bigelow (7:12). 
  • Image Gallery – This extra should have an asterisk next to it as it’s actually a double-dip. There are several stills that can be viewed here taken during production.  Some are candid shots of the actors or film crew while others are of the Jordanian locals where the movie was shot.  The feature within the feature is…
  • Q & A Session – …the question and answer session with Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art (23:30). 

 The Hurt Locker

Final Thoughts 

This film didn’t just live up to the hype it’s been getting, it surpassed it.  This movie should have been off the charts with American moviegoers, not off their radar.  It certainly wasn’t some cheap budget film, and if it were, the production team got a lot of bang for their buck…literally and figuratively.  The cast had chemistry and talent.  The story had substance and that’s actually the understatement of the week.  As I’m watching this movie and thinking about these soldiers’ jobs, I’m wondering, “Who the hell can do this day in and day out???”  My life’s a cakewalk and since I’ve seen what an EOD team goes through, I would kiss the ground they walk on (right after they said it’s clear).  We’ve got a lot of thanking to give to our troops and The Hurt Locker does a phenomenal job of bringing their duties, stress and accomplishments to light. 


 Bring the war home in Hi-Def today!


 The Hurt Locker Blu-ray Cover Art




3 Responses to “The Hurt Locker (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Bob Ignizio

    Great review, glad you liked this one. So if you had seen this earlier, would it have knocked ‘Transformer’s 2’ off your top spot for 2009?

  2. Brian White

    Great review! You sold me on it!

    I feel like I am the only person in the world who has not seen this film yet.

  3. Gregg

    Hey Bob, ironic you mention that as I was thinking about it today. I think it very well may have. My issue is I don’t ever remember this film being widely distributed. I’m guessing it was showing at Cinemark which I don’t frequent due to the other theaters closer to home. What a shame. This is definitely one film that would have been great to see in the theater. To watch this film without surround sound is a sin.