The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (2022)

The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy Award-winning tour de force, with six Oscars® under its belt is making its debut on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray via a Best Buy Exclusive Steelbook release from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Check out Ralph Potts’ review below.

The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (1)

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )


The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (2)


The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (3)

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 130 minutes
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC: MAXCLL/1000 - MAXFALL/496
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Guy Pearce, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Evangeline Lilly, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse
Directed by: Katheryn Bigelow
Music by: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders
Written by: Mark Boal
Region Code: A

(Video) The Hurt Locker Best Buy Exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Steelbook Unboxing Review

Release Date: February 22, 2022

"You’ll Know When You’re in It"


War is a drug. Nobody knows that better than Staff Sergeant James, head of an elite squad of soldiers tasked with disarming bombs in the heat of combat. To do this nerve-shredding job, it’s not enough to be the best: you have to thrive in a zone where the margin of error is zero, think as diabolically as a bomb-maker, and somehow survive with your body and soul intact. - Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

My Take:

Following the death of their well-respected Staff Sergeant in Iraq, U.S. Army Sergeant JT Stanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge find their E.O.D (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit saddled with a very different team leader. Staff Sergeant William James, an inveterate risk-taker, who seems to thrive on war, but there's no denying his gift for defusing bombs. The Hurt Locker is director Kathryn Bigelow’s award-winning war drama/thriller set in Iraq in 2004.

The film is based on journalist Mark Boal’s wartime experiences with a bomb squad which he then adapted in its fact-based story containing fictional characters. A taut, modern day wartime drama The Hurt Locker presents the conflict in the Middle East from an inside/firsthand perspective of three very different soldiers serving together in an elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal team. It carefully depicts the chaos, tension and psychological weight of war. The attention to detail casts a genuineness on the story’s visceral elements while expertly drawing you in with ratcheting precision when called for.

The Hurt Locker is compelling and engrossing thanks to the total sum of its parts which includes apt direction, terrific production elements and strong performances from an ensemble cast.

Note: The Steelbook packaging is gorgeous, featuring artwork, silk screened discs and a matching plastic slipcover that combine to compliment the set.

The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (4)

Replay Value:

The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (5)

Parental Guide:

(Video) The Hurt Locker - Best Buy Exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray SteelBook Unboxing

The rating is for war violence and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.

UHD Presentation: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Level of immersion:
      The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (11)
    • Soundstage integration:
      The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (12)
    • Audio object placement:
      The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (13)
    • Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
      The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (14)
      (Video) The Hurt Locker (2008) 4K UHD Blu-ray Review!
    • Entertainment factor:
      The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (15)

The Hurt Locker comes to 4K Digital/On Demand from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

From what I can gather it appears as though The Hurt Locker on Ultra HD Blu-ray was derived from the same master as the streaming version which was finished on a 2K DI and upconverted to 4K.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like The Hurt Locker contains a mix of visual elements, some of which incorporate film grain and the use of optics that won't consistently result in high gloss, tack-like sharpness. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

I streamed The Hurt Locker in Ultra HD via iTunes from my AppleTV 4K when it became available in 2020 and found the picture quality to be faithful. I would say that this Ultra HD Blu-ray rendering mimics that presentation, with perhaps better handling of fine detail, while similarly incorporating Dolby Vision HDR.

This wartime drama utilizes distinctive visuals to convey its time frame, mood, and thematic tone. The cinematography uses lighting schemes, film stock, digital captures and post-production touches to convey its story. This is evident and comes across in this rendering. Looking at the film's memorable opening sequence the improvement in depth and definition is noticeable, especially during the many sunshine splashed daytime scenes that take place in Iraq.

I could detect finer details present during interiors shots such as those in the barracks and abandoned buildings featured in the film. There are a few nighttime exterior shots which didn’t offer a marked improvement in dimension, but rendering was fine. Grain is preserved, appearing primarily organic with occasional instances where it takes on heavier emphasis. The color range in the film is narrow, with only the occasional use of primary colors like red and blue appearing onscreen.

I found the presentation to be very tame in terms of its use of dynamic highlights, both bright and dark, however some of that is owed to the nature of the photography. In general, the image didn't make any visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements. I didn’t feel it was lacking in anyway but, not necessarily next level. I believe that what we are seeing is a faithful rendering of the film’s elements, which when all is said and done, is all we can ask for.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL via Dolby Vision.

The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations for The Hurt Locker, I found the HDR elements to be the same, as the rendering of color and, dynamic highlights, didn’t appreciably standout when viewing the same select scenes.

The Hurt Locker isn’t a film that is going to show off all of the bells and whistles that 4K Ultra HD has to offer. The question now becomes, is the Ultra HD version worth the cost of purchase or rental? I would say that if you’re a fan and truly want to see The Hurt Locker in its finest form, the answer is, yes.

Dolby Atmos:

(Video) Cop or Drop: The Hurt Locker SteelBook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray #4k #bluray #udh

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be a fairly entertaining listening experience that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done quite well and, creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. This is an active Atmos presentation that relies quite a bit on the height channels.

I noticed that the front overhead channels were used for adding depth to the soundstage while the rear overhead channels contained more discrete sound objects/effects. In addition to things like overhead pans where sounds move through the soundstage, there are several sequences that bring everything together. The Hurt Locker already had a solid multi-channel mix. This remix in Dolby Atmos was handled by Academy Award® winner Paul N.J. Ottosson (part of the team responsible for The Hurt Locker’s Best Sound Editing/Best Sound Mixing wins). I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this Dolby Atmos presentation was, adding a complimentary element that elevated the experience of watching the film.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: The Hurt Locker Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: The Hurt Locker Blu-ray (previously released version)
  • Audio commentary with Director Kathryn Bigelow and Writer Mark Boal
  • The Hurt Locker: Behind the Scenes Featurette
  • Image Gallery
  • Digital Code
  • Collectible Steelbook Packaging

Final Thoughts:

The Hurt Locker is among the best Iraqi-War dramas to come out of Hollywood and easily withstands the test of time. It’s 4K rendering appears to faithfully reproduce the film’s elements while the new Dolby Atmos sound mix accents its already terrific sound. Add to that, a beautifully crafted Steelbook, and, this one is a must have for fans.

The Hurt Locker 4K Steelbook Ultra HD Blu-ray Review (16)

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems


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