The Hurt Locker is a movie that depicts the lives of three men who were in Explosive Ordnance Disposal team. At the beginning of the movie, Thompson is the main bomb specialist. However, while he was on a mission to disarm a bomb, he is killed when the bomb is detonated by unknown person using a phone. After this incident, a new specialist was required. After the death of Thompson, William James is introduced in the movie. After he is told about Johnson by Sanborn, he becomes aware that he is brought in as a replacement. He then knows that much will be expected of him and so he tells Sanborn that he is not trying to fill the shoes of Thompson but he will do his best. This statement just shows how James is committed to his job and wants to come out as the best, he does not want to be compared to any other person except himself.
On his first mission to disarm a bomb, two of his characters are noted, that is, he is smart and brave. This is because before he approaches the bomb, he first launches a teargas canister in order to “create a diversion,” something his colleagues are not aware ofsince they appear surprised by this move. His bravery comes into play when he is approached by a vehicle that appears to be a taxi that seemed to have intended to hit him. He does not panic and instead he decides to confront the driver of the vehicle head on; he points a gun to his head and tells him to head back after which he is ambushed by the rest of the soldiers. He then jokes about the situation by saying “if he wasn’t an insurgent he sure the hell is now.” His bravery is again seen on the scene where a vehicle carrying explosives on its trunk is shot at and explodes. He proceeds to put the fire out using a fire extinguisher and then he opens up the trunk and detonates the bomb after removing his protective gear.
James also appears to be friendly in the scene where the Iraqi child is trying to sell him DVDs, we see other soldiers ignoring the kid but when he comes about, he initiates a conversation and also crack jokes with the kid. He then buys a DVD and tells the boy to keep the change. He then offers the boy a cigarette jokingly and the boy falls for it and accepts the offer after which he tells Him that he should not smoke.
James also appears to be sarcastic when the situation calls for him to be so. A good example is when they were having conversation in the bathroom after Sanborn had asked him why he did what he did (doing things without consulting) and he just answered him that he will get it. When Sanborn tells him that he can “figure out a redneck piece of trailer trash like” him he answers sarcastically “looks like you are on the right track”
James is also determined; therefore, when he sets his mind on something he does not give up easily. This is evident in the car scene where he has to disarm the bombs on the trunk. He looks for the detonation switches, but he cannot find one. Sanborn then starts nagging him to leave the scene at ones and let the engineers handle the situation. He ignores the call and when Sanborn insists, he takes off the headphones and throws them to the ground. He only comes out of the car after he manages to disarm the bomb.
James also appears to be wild since he has a carefree attitude. This is something that Reed also notices and he comes to congratulate him on his 873rd bomb disarm. However, his wildness does not stop there, they can also be seen on the scene where they were detonating the bombs in the desert and then he realized he had forgotten his gloves on the scene; he immediately hops into a car and drives there to collect his gloves.
James is focused too; this is evident in the desert where he is helping Sanford use a sniper gun to kill enemies who are in the middle of the desert. While killing the enemies, Eldridge warns him that he could see some movements and asks what he could do. James does not panic instead he tells him to “handle it”. Something that Eldridge does gladly by killing the attacker.
James is playful as can be seen in the scenes like where he bets with the Arab boy that if he scores a goal he is going to give him Five dollars, a bet that he kept when he failed to score. His playfulness also extends after they had killed their attackers in the desert with a sniper gun; he could be seen playing with Sanborn while they were celebrating.
James is also caring and he gets attached to the people he cares about too quickly. When he saw the young boy who sold him DVDs dead with a bomb inserted in his body, he could not desert him and leave the body as it had been suggested by Sanborn. He appeared sad and he went ahead to take care of the boy’s corpse by removing the bomb from inside him and then passing the corpse to people who could take care of it. This shows the great length that he can go through once he cares for someone.
The death of Cambridge and the Iraqi boy seems to have got to James. He could not stop thinking about it and he believed that a man who used to sell DVDs with the boy could have been responsible and he also looks at him as a spy since he could not understand how someone could do that to a young boy. This makes him try to find out who was responsible for the crime. This was his turning point; he must have come to reality and realized that their enemies meant business and had no boundaries, anything goes.
When Eldridge confided in James that he was scared, he told him “Everyone is a coward about something.” When ones hears that, whet immediately comes to mind is that he is afraid of something that is not necessarily on the field, but maybe something that is outside work probably even his family. This made him seem like he was afraid of something that he could not talk about. However, later in the movie, after the death of the young boy who sold him DVDs, we get to understand that he was scared of something in his family. This is because he calls his ex-wife but does not speak. This is an act of cowardice.
The death of the two got to James and from that time onward he became more responsible and serious. He started giving orders, something that took both Sanborn and Eldridge by surprise. His playful nature also disappeared; this is seen on the scene where he realized that the boy he had seen dead was not the one who sold him DVDs (Beckham) and indeed he was alive. Moreover, he rarely talked like he used to. James also began to be frustrated after Eldridge was shot. After the incident, he went to the shower where he started crying just to vent out some of his frustrations. James also started trending too cautiously as it was apparent when he tried to rescue a man with a locked bomb strapped around him; he pointed a gun to his head and said “tell him to put his hands behind his head or I will shoot him,” he wanted to be sure that the man would not do anything. It is such actions in the film that depict how James’ character fundamentally changes throughout the film.
Despite all this, James was still caring. He sincerely wanted to help where he could. That aspect about him was still intact. This can be seen it the same scene where the man has a bomb strapped on him. He attempts to save him until the timer almost goes out; that is where he disappears. However, He apologized to the man that he could not help him. We also get to learn that James is not sure why he is the way he is; this is because he asks Sanborn “Do you know why I am the way I am?” the movie in itself has given an answer to this since we can see James going various transformations that he himself does not seem to understand. It is this statement that enables us understand that James lack a better understanding of his own characters and motivations.
Bigelow, K. (Director) (2008). The hurt locker [DVD].