Last week my oldest son got me to go see The Hurt Locker with him and a few days later I took my youngest son to go see it - not because it's a wonderful or uplifting movie, but because it's an important movie.
Most retired military such as myself will see several policy/procedure errors but the cinematography was nearly flawless. Having been to the Middle East several times, I could almost feel the heat, taste the dust and grit, smell the vehicle exhaust mingled with one's own sweat. It was filmed in Jordan, and looking at how trashy the streets are - litter strewn willy-nilly with no real effort outside one's home to keep it clean - I can personally attest that yes, it's precisely that way.
I had to explain to my youngest son what the title meant. I told him I suspect the phrase "the hurt locker" comes from the Navy because we have a "seabag locker," a "bos'n locker," a "paint locker," and other "locker" compartments on ships - and the "hurt locker" was often used in humorous (or threatening) reference to physical pain or arduous labor. But at other times it was used to describe a bad mental or emotional situation and these were not funny at all.
The last description fit the main character in the movie. He had become an adrenaline junkie, and his job - defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) - had become his world. Nothing else - not even his family and his child - were really that important to him. I've seen many sailors over the years whose duties on board ship were more important than their families. The engine room was their world, or Combat Information Center was their world. After having retired, I miss being haze gray and underway, I do miss it so - but I can only imagine what these poor bastards are going through now that they are also retired and can no longer hear ding ding - "underway, shift colors". I remember one - best damn boiler tech I'd ever known. His alcoholism cost him his career and I heard through the grapevine that he'd drunk himself to death in six months down in Kentucky after he was kicked out (with only two years to go till retirement). The boiler room was his world. It's gone now, and so is he. He had received a life sentence to the hurt locker and he only lasted six months. I didn't like him - he was a mean bastard even to his family - but I'm still sad to see him go that way.