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The Hurt Locker Review Critics


Dave White Profile

The hold-your-breath movie of the year. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The result is an intense, action-driven war pic, a muscular, efficient standout that simultaneously conveys the feeling of combat from within as well as what it looks like on the ground.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    A first-rate action thriller, a vivid evocation of urban warfare in Iraq, a penetrating study of heroism and a showcase for austere technique, terse writing and a trio of brilliant performances. Most of all, though, it’s an instant classic that demonstrates, in a brutally hot and dusty laboratory setting, how the drug of war hooks its victims and why they can’t kick the habit.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Both a psychological portrait and an exciting action film.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Tensely action-packed and muscularly directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this tale of an elite U.S. army bomb disposal unit in Baghdad is a familiar story in new clothes, targeted at the young male demographic.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Hurt Locker reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Violent, complex Iraq war drama is rough, tough, thrilling.

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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    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?

  • rolemodels true1

    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 orheroes? Is there any "safe" way to defuse bombs in a war zone? Is thereckless work of Sgt. James the bravery of a championor the recklessness of a fool?

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: 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.

  • sex false2

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

  • language false4

    Language: 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.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Scenes set in grocery stores include some visible brands.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters smoke and also drink to excess in one scene.