Your nerves are shot after the first sequence of The Hurt Locker, which means you watch the rest of the movie while suffering from post-traumatic stress. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but the movie – which follows a U.S. bomb-defusing unit in the Iraq war – does provide a sense of what it must have been like to experience that harrowing conflict. Jeremy Renner stars as Sgt. William James, an adrenaline junkie who strides up to ticking bombs as if they were broncos in need of being broken. It’s bravado, of course, and what’s remarkable about Renner’s performance is the subtle ways he reveals the chinks in James’ supposedly blast-proof armor. Director Kathryn Bigelow, a veteran Hollywood action specialist, holds the whole thing tautly in place, using flashes of style – including a slow-motion insert shot of reverberating dust on a car – to communicate the full power of these explosions. If you see this, prepare to leave the picture exhausted.