Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    A near-perfect movie about men in war, men at work. Through sturdy imagery and violent action, it says that even Hell needs heroes.
  3. 100
    A small classic of tension, bravery, and fear, which will be studied twenty years from now when people want to understand something of what happened to American soldiers in Iraq. If there are moviegoers who are exhausted by the current fashion for relentless fantasy violence, this is the convincingly blunt and forceful movie for them.
  4. There's something about this story, and this war, that brings out the stripped-down conceptual artist in her (Bigelow): Against blank canvases of desert sand and rubble, explosive wires are linked to nerve ends, and everything that matters depends on the twitch of a muscle or a finger on a button.
  5. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    A full-throttle body shock of a movie. It gets inside you like a virus, puts your nerves in a blender, and twists your guts into a Gordian knot.
  6. 100
    The best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq.
  7. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    After The Hurt Locker (which is without question the most exciting and least ideological movie yet made about the war in Iraq), everyone will remember Renner's name.
  8. 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.
  9. 100
    Overwhelmingly tense, overflowing with crackling verisimilitude, it's both the film about the war in Iraq that we've been waiting for and the kind of unqualified triumph that's been long expected from director Kathryn Bigelow.
  10. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    What you'll remember most will be Renner's remarkably complex commander. By the time we finally figure him out, it's become clear we've witnessed a star-making performance, in a movie that deserves to stand as one of the defining films of the decade.
  11. 100
    A great film, an intelligent film, a film shot clearly so that we know exactly who everybody is and where they are and what they’re doing and why.
  12. This one enters the pantheon of great American war films.
  13. 100
    When viewers are ultimately released from The Hurt Locker's exhilarating vice grip, they'll find themselves shaken, energized and, more than likely, eager to see it again.
  14. 100
    Such is the extraordinary achievement of The Hurt Locker: it has the perspective of years when those years have yet to pass.
  15. 100
    Like every war before it, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has generated its share of movies. But The Hurt Locker is the first of them that can properly be called a masterpiece.
  16. 100
    The Hurt Locker redefines war-film electricity.
  17. At once an unforgettable war film and a brilliant character study.
  18. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    The most literally exciting film you will see this year. Forget the off-putting banner of another Iraq movie -- go, watch, marvel, endure and book in the palliative of a stiff drink afterwards.
  19. 91
    For the first hour or more, The Hurt Locker boldly forsakes any conventional narrative hook beyond the ongoing tensions between these men and the terrifying grind of defusing bombs day after day.
  20. Renner gives a full-bore performance of great individuality and industriousness, but essentially his character is as glamorized as any classic Westerner.
  21. The Hurt Locker might be the first Iraq-set film to break through to a mass audience because it doesn't lead with the paralysis of the guilt-ridden Yank. The horror is there, but under the rush.
  22. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    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.
  23. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    The adrenaline rush of war has been largely missing from Hollywood's Iraq, but it's certainly front and center in The Hurt Locker, the first war movie in a while that feels as if it could have starred John Wayne.
  24. Reviewed by: Nick Antosca
    Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is a grinding, nightmarish machine.
  25. The tension is enough to make you slightly sick, and the overall mood of the thing is deeply dispiriting, but then, nobody ever said that war isn't hell.
  26. 88
    This is a tense, well-crafted motion picture that keeps viewers on edge. It's an exhausting 130 minutes; many viewers will leave the theater feeling drained.
  27. 88
    Here's the Iraq War movie for those who don't like Iraq War movies.
  28. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Both a psychological portrait and an exciting action film.
  29. Vivid, assured and extremely suspenseful.
  30. 88
    In The Hurt Locker, the thrill is unexpectedly contagious. You don't realize how riveted you are until you're back on American soil observing James in civilian life.
  31. Fused with paranoia and almost unbearable suspense, The Hurt Locker is powerful stuff.
  32. 83
    Episodic and, at times, overwrought. And occasionally its deliberate opacity becomes too cloudy. But the things that shine through are remarkable. War is indeed Hell, it tells us, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're filled with demons.
  33. 80
    The drawback is that even though The Hurt Locker is extremely effective in places, it ultimately feels unformed and somewhat unfinished.
  34. 63
    Stretched both timewise and for plausibility.
  35. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Boal's script stirs a little of everything into the pot, which boils down into seven setpieces divided by brief intervals of camaraderie/conflict among the three protags.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 1218 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. J
    Aug 3, 2009
    To all of you military types complaining that this movie wasn't realistic enough, it's not a documentary. It's a work of To all of you military types complaining that this movie wasn't realistic enough, it's not a documentary. It's a work of fiction. Period. The Hurt Locker isn't concerned with the nuts and bolts of making every tiny detail as 100% accurate as possible. If you want that, watch the Military Channel, or better yet go re-enlist and get shipped back over there if want an "authentic" experience. This is the first war movie in ages that paints its soldiers as real, complex people instead of cartoons or psychos, and all you can do is complain? Sheesh. Luckily, for the rest of us, this film will do just fine, because the enlightened viewer will realize that The Hurt Locker isn't about the details, but the big picture. It's a document of what a war like this means and how it affects the participants on both sides. It's neither pro-war nor anti-war, but instead just shows the ways things are without pronouncing judgment on its characters or their actions. It's also a showcase for some of the most impressive action and suspense set pieces to grace the cinema in a very long time. Hard, sharp, and honest, The Hurt Locker is one of the year's very best films. THAT'S the reality. Full Review »
  2. Aug 27, 2010
    Easily the best movie made about the Iraq War, and one of the most memorable war movies I've seen in general. The director, Kathryn Bigelow,Easily the best movie made about the Iraq War, and one of the most memorable war movies I've seen in general. The director, Kathryn Bigelow, charges almost every scene with suspense and tension, producing action sequences more exhilarating and gripping than most high-budget blockbusters. Also, wtf with people complaining about the movie's real-life credibility? It's not like "Apocalypse Now" represented the Vietnam War as it was, it just tried to be a great movie, which it was and "The Hurt Locker" is the same. Full Review »
  3. Feb 4, 2011
    this movie is a disgrace to the armed forces and has debased the Academy Awards by winning the Oscar for best movie. If you like cowboythis movie is a disgrace to the armed forces and has debased the Academy Awards by winning the Oscar for best movie. If you like cowboy movies, you'll recognise the characters but feel let down by pretty much everything else. Full Review »