The Hurt Locker does not really have a conventional plot. Instead, the story is built around the last 38 days the three men in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad have remaining in their Iraq rotation. Spc. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), just a kid but beginning to crack under the pressure, and the sensible Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), are simply trying to avoid the titular place that represents “ultimate pain.” They are both getting over the recent loss of a teammate to what seems like total randomness concerning who lives and who dies.
The new replacement, Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) is a wild cowboy of sorts (as pegged by his superior officers), who prefers to detonate devices without his protective suit. “If I’m gonna die... I wanna die comfortable,” quips the cocksure sergeant.
To his teammates, James’s recklessness represents a danger to their own well-being. They begin to wonder, which is a greater threat, the bomb on the ground or the man in the bomb suit.