This essay explores The Hurt Locker in three contexts: as a war movie, particularly an Iraq war movie; in relation to themes of masculinity, male heroism and male intimacy; and as a Kathryn Bigelow film, taking account of the director’s association with action genres and The Hurt Locker’s critical and award success. These three critical frames overlap and inform each other. The article provides and analysis of the film’s visual style as well as the various reviews and commentaries that accompanied the film, both on its initial release and following its success in securing awards. While reviews and Bigelow herself may have foregrounded a war movie with a documentary aesthetic, The Hurt Locker is intensely melodramatic in its presentation of masculinity.
Keywords: The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow, war movie, masculinity, male heroism, male intimacy.