Exclusive: New ‘Hurt Locker’ Photo Will Blow You Away

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If you really need another reason to see Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker when it screens tomorrow night here at the SXSW Film Festival, the image above (click to enlarge) should just about do it. From what we hear, it is an intense, pulse-pounding ride through the world of the U.S. Army’s bomb squad and their time in Iraq. It has already garnered acclaim from its screenings at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, and continues to excite us with every single ounce of media that is released. Personally, I will be seeing it tomorrow morning — and f*ck me if I’m not super excited. Yes, that is right folks. I said it, and I’m proud to stand by it — The Hurt Locker looks, sounds and smells like a big barrel full of awesome.

So it goes without saying that we are very excited to be able to debut the above image exclusively for you this afternoon. It features an explosion. Find more info on the film below, including some SXSW screening details.

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Official Synopsis: The Hurt Locker is a riveting, suspenseful portrait of the courage under fire of the military’s unrecognized heroes: the technicians of a bomb squad who volunteer to challenge the odds and save lives doing one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. Three members of the Army’s elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad battle insurgents and one another as they search for and disarm a wave of roadside bombs on the streets of Baghdad—in order to try and make the city a safer place for Iraqis and Americans alike. Their mission is clear—protect and save—but it’s anything but easy, as the margin of error when defusing a war-zone bomb is zero. This thrilling and heart-pounding look at the psychology of bomb technicians and the effects of risk and danger on the human psyche is based on the first-hand observations of journalist and screenwriter Mark Boal, who was embedded with a special bomb unit in Iraq. These elite military men spoke of explosions as sending you to “the hurt locker.”

Acclaimed director Kathryn Bigelow brings together groundbreaking realistic action and intimate human drama in a landmark film starring Jeremy Renner (Dahmer , The Assassination of Jesse James ), Anthony Mackie (Half Nelson , We Are Marshall) and Brian Geraghty (We Are Marshall , Jarhead), with cameo appearances by Ralph Fiennes (The Reader), David Morse (“John Adams”), Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”) and Guy Pearce (Memento). The Hurt Locker is produced by Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Greg Shapiro and Nicolas Chartier. The screenplay is written by Mark Boal (In the Valley of Elah) . Barry Ackroyd, BSC (United 93, The Wind That Shakes the Barley) is director of photography. Production designer is Karl Juliusson ( K19: The Widowmaker, Breaking the Waves ). Editors are Bob Murawski (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3) and Chris Innis. Costume designer is George Little (Jarhead , Crimson Tide). Music is by Academy Award Nominee Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders (3:10 to Yuma), and sound design by Academy Award Nominee Paul N.J. Ottosson (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3).

In the summer of 2004, Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) of Bravo Company are at the volatile center of the war, part of a small counterforce specifically trained to handle the homemade bombs, or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), that account for more than half of American hostile deaths and have killed thousands of Iraqis. The job, a high-pressure, high-stakes assignment, which soldiers volunteer for, requires a calm intelligence that leaves no room for mistakes, as they learn when they lose their team leader on a routine mission.

When Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) cheerfully takes over the team, Sanborn and Eldridge are shocked by what seems like his reckless disregard for military protocol and basic safety measures. And yet, in the fog of war, appearances are never reliable for long. Is James really a swaggering cowboy who lives for peak experiences and the moments when the margin of error is zero – or is he a consummate professional who has honed his esoteric craft to high-wire precision? As the fiery chaos of Baghdad threatens to engulf them, the men struggle to understand and contain their mercurial new leader long enough for them to make it home. They have only 38 days left in their tour, but with each new mission comes another deadly encounter, and as James blurs the line between bravery and bravado, it seems only a matter of time before disaster strikes.

With a visual and emotional intensity that makes audiences feel like they have been transported to the dizzying, 24-hour turmoil of life in the bomb squad, The Hurt Locker is both a gripping portrayal of real-life sacrifice and heroism, and a layered, probing study of the soul-numbing rigors and potent allure of the modern battlefield.

The Hurt Locker is set for release on June 26, 2009. If you are at SXSW, you can see it tomorrow (3/17) at 6:30p at the Paramount Theater. For more of the best SXSW Film 2009 coverage on the web, keep it locked to our official SXSW ’09 homepage.

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