“The Hurt Locker” is a dramatic war film based on the activities of a small group of bomb disposal experts during the Iraqi war. It focuses on the daily activities of the three men involved, particularly on the high-risk, dangerous and tense nature of their job. In particular, the film examines the behavior of the group leader, both during and after his deployment. Ultimately, the extreme risk involved in the job leads the characters to change and detaches them from society and other people. The leader of the group, Sergeant William James, is initially portrayed as extremely reckless and irresponsible during extremely dangerous scenarios where the group must deactivate bombs in the relevant war zones (see figure 1). The severe tension and possible fatalities involved in this is of an extreme degree, and the men deal with it in different ways. Sergeant James appears to be unaffected by the risk involved, and the other men even think him to be psychologically unstable and a huge threat to their group as his recklessness endangers their lives. However, the risk becomes too much for one of the men, who want to leave the group, return home and start a family. This idea is very contrasting to the scenes of war portrayed in the film. When Sergeant James finally returns home to his wife and son, he appears bored and restless. While one would assume he would be utterly grateful to be safe, in the company of loved ones and without having to risk his life on a daily basis, he appears to be bored. By the end of the film, it is quite shocking to see him actually returning to the war zones to continue the job of deactivating bombs, which despite all logic and reason, he appears to love. The fact that when he is at home he appears detached from his family and extremely bored, highlights the fact that civilian life is a foreign and unappealing concept to him, as a result of the high-risk activities he engaged in during his time in Iraq. From the opening scene wherein lies the quote “war is a drug”, we see evidence of this by the end when Sergeant James voluntarily returns to the war zone. Willing to sacrifice his life and his family relationships for the sake of such a dangerous job, it is evident that this risky behavior has changed him as he has become addicted to it.
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