THE HURT LOCKER
Mark Boal & Kathryn Bigelow
First Draft REVISIONS
"The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for
war is a drug."
Chris Hedges, WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING
"The worst imaginable news: war thrives because enough men still
Over the BUZZING sound of an electric engine we--
A grainy, low-resolution view, seen from sixteen inches above
street level. And we're moving fast -- nauseatingly fast.
From this angle close to the ground we FLY down a road strewn
with war garbage: munitions, trash, rubber, animal shit --
all of which, from this odd, jarring perspective, looks
We zoom towards a crumpled COKE CAN, the white `C' growing
enormous on the screen, filling the screen like a skyscraper.
We SMASH into the can and barrel ahead.
A RAG flutters, blocks the view, then tumbles away, as we --
-- zoom downhill, see nothing but gray sand, then zoom back
up hill and off, catching air, a flash of the horizon line,
BRIGHT SUN, and land hard on a packed road.
We close in on one particular pile of trash, which is topped
with a white plastic garbage bag, and stop. Puffs of dust
and fluttering plastic.
We glide across the fluttering plastic. Flies buzzing.
Advancing slowly, inch by inch, to the edge for our first
glimpse inside the bag:
A RUSTY ARTILLERY SHELL.
EXT MIDDLE EASTERN STREET/DAWN
A military ROBOT (about 3 feet long and 2 feet high, aka `the
bot') that rolls on tank-like treads and has a mechanical
hand and an array of CAMERAS is moving around the bag.
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - JANUARY, 2005
This is all taking place on a dusty stretch of road in a
quiet section of Baghdad, barren except for a few shops, some
cement houses and a couple of parked cars.
THE U.S. MILITARY HAS CONTROL OF THE CITY, BUT INSURGENT
GROUPS ARE MOUNTING FRESH ATTACKS IN AN ATTEMPT TO DISRUPT
THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS ON 31 JANUARY 2005.
THEY'VE ADOPTED A DEADLY NEW TACTIC, USING I.E.D.s -
IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICES - TO AMBUSH AMERICAN TROOPS. THE
BODY COUNT IS RISING.
IN RESPONSE, THE ARMY HAS DEPLOYED THE LAST OF ITS ELITE BOMB
SQUAD UNITS, HOPING THAT THESE THREE MAN TEAMS CAN DISARM THE
BOMBS BEFORE THEY EXPLODE, AND STEM THE TIDE OF DESTRUCTION.
SOUND of far off GUNSHOTS and CALL to prayer.
SEVERAL U.S. INFANTRY SOLDIERS are moving PEDESTRIANS away
from the bag. Another group of SOLDIERS is clearing out all
the shops: bakery, sandwich shop, and a butcher shop.
Next to a parked Humvee, THREE EOD (Explosive Ordinance
Disposal, aka Bomb Squad) SOLDIERS are crouched over a laptop
computer, looking at the screen and the same image of the
metal artillery shell inside the fluttering plastic.
SERGEANT MATT THOMPSON wipes at the sweat on his forehead.
This is summer in the desert and the median temperature on
this bright clear morning is 110 degrees.
It's to the left.
Thompson tears open a mushy Snicker's. He is fleshy around
the arms and middle, but there's real muscle underneath the
flab and truth be told, after so many years in EOD, he's lost
the need to have a show-off build.
SERGEANT J. T. SANBORN works the joystick on the laptop. He
is a strapping Iowa farm boy, with a thick back from bailing
hay. In contrast to his bulky frame, his face is soft, open,
kind. He has a relaxed demeanor. Which might lead you to
think nothing ever bothers Sanborn. But if you thought that,
you'd be mistaken. Before joining EOD, Sanborn was in
Military Intelligence. He quit. Military Intel was too easy.
Up a little.
Rusty artillery shell now almost full frame.
Closer. I want to see the ojive.
Zoom on the nose cone of the shell.
The third soldier leans in for a better look.
SPECIALIST OWEN ELDRIDGE is a tall, lanky young man, the
youngest of the group. He's a fighter like the others but
also a reader, and something of a thinker. Eldridge crouches
behind the other two soldiers, sipping a bottle of water,
eyes never leaving the screen.
Push it in.
I can't get it inside.
Pretend it's your dick.
I'm pretending it's your dick.
Eldridge laughs. He clearly likes the two men he's with.
Let me try.
Give me a second.
Give me a crack at it.
They change places. Thompson now on the controls.
Hello mamma. See that?
Looks like a one-five-five.
Eldridge gets up and goes to the Humvee, fishes around
Yeah. That can do some damage.
We're going to need a charge.
Eldridge is already on it, approaching with the four blocks
of C4. He's done this enough to know what they need.
Figured four blocks. Hey with these
four blocks and the ninety pounds,
are we going to be far enough away?
Now we see the tiny toy robot in the far distance -- far, far
Behind the Humvee and on either side of the road INFANTRY
SOLDIERS are still clearing civilian onlookers from nearby
Thompson stands and takes a good look at his surroundings.
The blast is going to roll out
there (pointing) the shell will
probably kick out there (pointing),
and most of the shrapnel is going
to rain up in an umbrella pattern.
Some smaller pieces and shell
fragments will come out this way --
but we'll be okay if we are behind
The idea that he would be standing in the open amuses
You know I'll be behind the truck.
Nothing wrong with that, Owen.
Let's get the area cleared--
(looks around at the crowd
--as best we can, then load up the
Eldridge double times it over to a nearby soldier. Together
they herd away various bystanders.
The bot dutifully makes its return voyage to the plastic bag,
this time towing a cart which is loaded with C4 and a
blasting cap, and a coil of unspooling detonation wire.
The robot hits a bump causing the blasting cap to tumble to
the ground, where it begins to roll --
Everyone cringes. The cap doesn't explode. Close call.
The blasting cap has rolled into a gully, out of reach of the
Sanborn wiggles the stick. It's not happening.
Matt, the bot's not going to do it.
The robot hand tries again. No dice.
Okay, you're right. I have to go
down there - don't you think?
I don't want to wait around here in
this neighborhood anyway.
What, you don't like it here?
Let's just get me dressed.
Sanborn unpacks "THE SUIT." A bizarre contraption that looks
like an astronaut suit and helmet crossed with the Michelin
Man. Because of its weight and complexity it takes two men to
put it on - or one Sanborn.
Sanborn kneels down and guides Thompson's feet into the
suit's black boots, then lashes up a series of Velcro straps
to secure the armor, like a squire working on a knight.
A strap near the crotch prompts Thompson to wisecrack:
I thought you already had your
Need to keep my options open.
Thompson twists to get his chest protector on. Eyes tight,
brow furrowed, squints into the far distance. That's going
to be a mean motherfucker.
Okay. I'm going to make my
approach. This area looks okay. No
power-lines. Clean line of sight.
If it looks alright when I get down
there, I'm going to plug it in and
we'll just blow it. Boom -- no more
bomb -- give these people something
to think about.
I want them to know if they're
going to leave a bomb on the side
of the road for us, we're going to
blow up their little road. Leave
them a crater and an ear ache.
Sanborn and Thompson put in their earplugs.
I'm craving a hamburger, is that
Next, Sanborn takes a metal helmet with a thick glass front
and seals Thompson's face in. Sanborn attaches the breathing
hose. Taps his boss on the shoulder.
Not for you. (sealing him in)
This is Blaster One.
Copy, that. Blaster One. You're
good to go.
Thompson turns to face the white bag and begins his walk
EXT. ROAD DAY
Thompson's stride is slowed by the eighty-pound suit...He
CLUNKS down the road. Dust clouding from his boots...
He moves past the same mounds of charred and rotting stuff,
inner tubes, soda bottles, crumpled cans, steaming animal
waste, and bits of fluttering plastic that the bot passed...
The question is not - do you see a white garbage bag? It's
which of these bags is the BOMB?
Sweat slides down into his eyes.
200 meters. It's boiling in here.
Copy that. 200 meters.
The RASP of Thompson's BREATHING loud on Sanborn's walkie-
Thompson walks on.
A knot of flies floats in the air in front of his helmet. He
lifts an arm and they disappear.
The desert sun glints off a nearby car and momentarily
bleaches his mask bright white.
A YOUNG GIRL with an INFANT BABY in her arms appears in a far
off doorway, then withdraws out of sight.
He looks down, CAREFULLY watches his footfalls. Garbage
piled on top of garbage.
Eldridge and Sanborn are at the ready, scanning the area and
Copy, that. 100 meters out.
Thompson: careful footfalls on sand.
Breathing. Heat. Sun. Sweat. Flies.
Suddenly a DOG out of nowhere charges, BARKING ferociously.
Thompson is momentarily startled. Then resumes his walking.
The dog runs off.
Thompson blinks more sweat out of his eyes.
UPRANGE WITH SANBORN
Sanborn lifts the walkie. Sweat in his eyes. Wipes it away.
Copy twenty five. You're in the
Thanks for reminding me.
Eldridge nods. Everything progressing nice and easy.
DOWNRANGE WITH THOMPSON
Thompson is standing over the blasting cap.
Alright. I'm here. I'm gonna put it
Thompson picks the blasting cap off the ground and looks up --
As distant THUMP of approaching chopper wash quickly becomes
super loud in his ears.
Hold on. Bird coming in.
I hear it.
Thompson pulls the cap back out. He looks up to see the giant
black shape passing over him.
[Note: we see now what Thompson is worried about: as it chops
the air, a helicopter rotor produces static electricity. We
see this electricity as a faint, nearly transparent rippling
Guy is trying to kill me.
The helicopter turns, and swings back around.
If he brings that electricity back
here, I'm going to put a bullet in
The helicopter banks in the other direction, away from
A collective sigh of relief.
Jesus. (into walkie) I think he
figured out we were EOD. You're
good, Blaster One.
Thompson inserts the cap back into the C4.
We're armed and ready to blow,
Copy that. You coming back?
Copy that, I'm on my way.
Thompson gets up. Looks around at the expanse of empty, still
road under heavy guard.
The war has stopped for him -- and he knows it.
Thompson begins to walk back uprange, looking carefully at
the ground around him.
Sanborn and Eldridge lower their rifles.
Thompson carefully nudges a Coke can out of the way of his
Eldridge turns away from Thompson and opens the HUMVEE trunk
to stow the bot.
Sanborn swats a fly and takes a sip of water.
Eldridge loads the bot. Out of the corner of his eye he sees
some movement in the butcher shop.
Hey Sanborn --
Butcher shop - dude has a phone.
He shouldn't be --
Eldridge is already moving towards the store.
Sanborn raises his gun and puts it on the store. The back of
Eldridge moving in and out of his scope. He can't get a
(shouting, waving his gun)
Hey - put that down--
The BUTCHER in a white apron nods and puts up his hand as if
to say, `give me a minute.'
--walking towards the Humvee away from the bomb. Lumbering
50 meters. Why is Eldridge running?
Hey - put the phone down!
--bolting sideways trying to get Eldridge out of his line of
(shouting to Eldridge) PUT THE PHONE DOWN!
--legs pumping, his thumb flicks the rifle safety--
The butcher smiles. Gives Eldridge the thumbs up sign. His
other thumb is jamming a button on the phone.
Now Eldridge is panicked, shouting:
DROP THE PHONE!!!
--starts to run. Fear in his eyes.
--smiles back at Eldridge--
MACRO: thumb on send button of the cell phone.
--running full out now--
- Fireball blasts out from the bomb
-- flattening Thompson
-- Blood splatters the inside of his helmet.
-- thick cloud of particulate matter roils out in slow motion
-- hitting Eldridge and Sanborn -- turning them black.
With the roiling cloud we begin to float up and out over the
entire city of Baghdad:
--we see intersections jammed with traffic; American Humvees
and tanks idle next to red-and-white taxis, beat-up Opals,
the military and civilian mixed up in one snarling line, all
competing for space, advantage...
--we continue to rise until we take in the entire massive
metropolis. Mosques and office towers ascend from a maze of
dusty streets teeming with life despite two decades of war...
The roiling black cloud thins in a light breeze and we hard
INT CAMP VICTORY TRAILER DAY
A shaft of afternoon sun creeps past a plywood-covered
window, faintly lighting the interior of a narrow, low-
In the dimness we see contours: desk, chair, a large locker,
and the silhouette of a MAN moving a cot away from the
window. On the cot is a small duffle bag.
We hear a knock from the outside.
The man moving the cot stops.
The door opens and in the light we see Sanborn.
Sergeant James. (extending his
hand) J.T. Sanborn. Welcome to
Bravo Company and welcome to Camp
Victory? I thought this was called
They changed it last week. Victory
It's Will. Good to meet you J.T.
SERGEANT WILLIAM JAMES extends a hand. A former DELTA
soldier is in his late twenties, good-looking, appealing
face, solid build, one of the lucky ones. And yet, look
closer. In the right light, there's an unusual depth to his
expression, to his eyes and all-American face, as if he's
guarding an inner chaos that could rush out at any time.
Right now, however, James is doing his best to act like a
regular nice guy.
Sanborn looks around the empty room. One duffle.
So, is that all you brought from
James motions to the locker.
Yeah. Here, give me a hand with
Sanborn helps James move the locker against the wall.
By the window.
They push the locker over the window, blocking the light.
It's very dark in the room now.
A mortar once hit near my trailer --
boom -- a two inch piece of frag
cut through the aluminum and flew
this far (gesturing with his hands)
over my head, past my balls and
landed in my computer hard-drive.
Where's the damn light?
Sanborn finds the switch in the corner. Then he comes back
and taps the metal locker, testing its strength.
This should stop any lateral
Yeah, I'm good unless it comes
through the roof (smiles) in which
case I'm gonna need a closed
Sanborn doesn't like the joke, tries to change gears.
The accent -- you from Georgia?
Tennessee. Trailer park off I-5.
Oh, right. I'm from Vermont. You
know, "live free or die." Trees.
Snow. Maple syrup. Pot.
James gives him a polite smile.
Sanborn soldiers on:
Well, if you need anything to get
squared away, just let me know.
Either myself or Owen -- Eldridge --
be happy to steer you in the right
direction for supplies, whatever.
Okay. (pause) Thanks.
Anyway, the mess tent can be hard
to find the first time ... so ...
if you want ... we're going over
there now to grab chow ... come
Thanks. But no.
You want me to bring you back a
burger or something?
(shaking his head)
Nah. I'm good.
James unzips his duffle and gets up to put his clothes on an
overhead shelf. Sanborn watches him, then starts for the
door. James turns to face Sanborn.
I'm sorry about Thompson, I heard
he was a good tech.
Yeah, he was. And he was a good
team leader too.
I know I can't fill his shoes, but
I'm here to try--
--but you know, if it's your time
it's your time. No man can change
Yeah, I guess that's true.
So, we roll at oh-six-hundred.
James smiles slightly as he contemplates the next day's
Looking forward to it.
EXT TRAILER MOMENTS LATER
Sanborn comes out and sees Eldridge, who has been waiting by
They walk towards the mess tent. Sanborn is absorbed in
thought. Eldridge doesn't want to interrupt.
After a moment.
A good `ole boy. You know, loves
the Army, blood runs green. Country
boy. Seems solid.
I always liked southerners, for
Then he's just your type.
Why is it always the gay jokes with
you. It's not even funny.
(growing serious, he
imitates James' accent)
It's your time it's your time.
He said that?
EXT CAMP VICTORY ELDRIDGE'S TRAILER EARLY MORNING
The sand has completed its daily march across Eldridge's
steps. His boots sweep a bit away as he steps outside in full
battle gear, and kisses a photo of the Virgin Mary and slips
it inside his helmet. He steps out into the bright morning
EXT CAMP VICTORY HUMVEE PARKING LOT
Sanborn is gearing up, strapping on a shitload of weapons and
ammunition. Ready for anything.
Eldridge comes up.
Where's the FNG?
[Note: FNG. Fucking New Guy.]
EXT JAMES' TRAILER
Eldridge, surprised to see James is not outside ready to go,
knocks on his door.
The door opens a crack, revealing James dressed in his
skivvies and wrapped in a blanket, blinking awake.
Gimme a minute.
Before Eldridge can express the shock that's written all over
his face, James has closed the door.
EXT CAMP VICTORY
An American Humvee drives past a long line of parked tanks
arranged in a neat rows, and gathering dust on all horizontal
Sanborn is behind the wheel, simultaneously driving and
loading his rifle. James sits next to him in the passenger
seat, loading his rifle and looking out the window. Eldridge
is in the back seat.
(looking out window)
Those Abrams have been parked ever
since I got here nine months ago,
and I ain't seen them move once.
They should put those on eBay.
Hey, J.T., how much you think one
of those would cost?
Well I guess it makes sense.
Anybody comes alongside the Humvee,
we're dead. Anybody looks at you
funny, you're dead. Pretty much,
the bottom line, is if you're in
Iraq you're dead. How's a tank
going to stop that?
Gimme a break, Owen.
Sorry. Just trying to scare the
EXT CAMP VICTORY/BAGHDAD OUTSKIRTS MORNING
The Humvee moves out of the base and into the outskirts of
the city. Heat and sand and little else.
We had a few bombs up in Kabul too.
Sure, I bet you did. But you're
going to be real busy here, boss.
James smiles, settles back in the seat.
The Humvee is now approaching a cluster of cars.
Hey Owen -- watch the fucking road.
Eldridge moves up to the gunner's seat on top of the Humvee.
Eldridge has a collection of rocks he keeps in the gunner's
nest and now he throws one at the car in front of him. The
passenger turns around.
Imshee -- Imshee !
EXT BAGHDAD STREET EARLY MORNING
The Humvee grinds to a stop on the outskirts of town. It's a
place teeming with trash, with dwellings that look as beaten
down as the people. The ghetto of the ghetto.
James is first out, Sanborn comes up behind him.
Eldridge climbs out of the turret.
They are now out in the open -- standing on Iraqi sand --
where anything can happen.
Eldridge nods and begins turning suspicious bits of plastic
over with the tip of his boots.
(looking around at the
Where are the guys who called this
James walks on. Sanborn and Eldridge exchange a glance `what
the hell,' and follow him.
Victory Main, Victory Main, this is
Blaster Mike. Interogative, Do you
have an updated poz for the link-
up? Has their position changed?
After a moment a scratchy voice over his walkie.
Blaster Mike, this is Victory Main.
Negative. Figures to follow. Three-
four-five-three is your grid. You
should have a visual on them right
now. They're waving an American
Sanborn keys his GPSw unit.
Negative, Main. No one in sight.
Blaster Mike. You should have a
visual, waving a flag.
(looking at empty space) Well,
that's were I am and I don't see
any guys in fatigues, and I sure as
hell don't see any American flag,
James, Sanborn and Eldridge continue their slow walk down the
street. An empty Humvee comes into view.
They abandoned their vehicle?
James walks forward. Unconcerned. Takes out a cigarette and
lights it. Sanborn's walkie comes to life.
Roger, Blaster. I copied you the
James approaches the empty Humvee.
Stops. Turns to see a tiny American flag being waved in the
window of a nearby building. James jogs over to the building,
opens the door.
Hello boys --
Looking into a room full of SOLDIERS who are trying not to
Yeah, thanks. Roger that.
Don't tell me the bomb is in there
A SERGEANT, slightly embarrassed, climbs out into the open
and tries to act nonchalant.
He points down the block, which is a sea of trash and white
(pointing far down the
Down on that block, one of our
informants says there is an IED in
a white plastic bag.
James has heard enough and even though the Sergeant may have
more to say --
I'll get it.
(turning to Sanborn)
Break out the suit.
(turning back to the
Keep your guys back.
Sanborn is already unloading the robot.
What about the bot?
Don't need it.
What? Aren't we going to send the
bot down to take a look?
Nah, I'm going to take care of it.
Sanborn shoots Eldridge a look. Is he an FNG or what?
Sanborn and Eldridge kneeling before James, buckling on the
I was thinking if we sent the bot
down first --
James ignores him.
As soon as he's enclosed in the suit, James moves quickly
toward the rubble pile.
He's a rowdy boy.
Somebody should tell the U.N. to
send the rice in clear plastic bags
so there's no place to hide the
IEDs. The insurgent would be like,
`Allah has forsaken me all the bags
[Note: IED Improvised Explosive Device. A homemade bomb. The
number one weapon of the Iraqi insurgency.]
I've seen so much garbage I'm
starting to like the smell.
As he advances downrange, he passes a line of bushes and
tosses an incendiary grenade at it, setting the foliage
Sanborn looks on in confusion.
Blaster One, what are you doing?
Blaster One, this is Blaster Mike,
what's with the fire on the side of
the road, over?
No answer. Sanborn and Eldridge struggle to get a visual.
They dash to a better vantage point.
Hey James, can you hear me? What's
with the fire on the side of the
Creating a diversion.
Sanborn can barely see James through the flames and smoke.
He climbs up on top of the Humvee to get a better look but
gets only a partial view.
From what? Is there a threat?
Eldridge scans the area with his rifle, tense, trying to
figure out how to behave.
Get up on that wall.
Eldridge hustles over to the wall, but can't manage to pull
himself up with all his gear on, so dashes down to a mound of
dirt, which gives him a leg up.
James, I can't see you, over.
The last thing he expects is James' laconic reply:
Sanborn shoots Eldridge a look - what the fuck.
Tell me what you see, Specialist.
Eldridge, on the wall, feels awfully vulnerable and in the
open. The wall is quite narrow. His feet are precariously
balanced. His view of James is not much better
I see his back. He's walking
downrange. Oh, I lost him.
Eldridge, move down that wall and
maintain a visual. Move. Move.
Eldridge teetering down the wall.
Roger, roger. I'm on him. He's
SOUND of BREATHING in Sanborn's walkie.
James, the smoke is killing my
visibility. Where are you in
relation to the IED? Are you 100
Hell, I don't know. I'll let you
know when I'm standing over it.
We see the world from James' point of view now, the city of
Baghdad has taken on an intense and dreamy hue, as if we're
in some sort of fugue state:
--He looks down the strange, threatening Iraqi street.
He walks on. The suit is heavy, little puffs of sand with
each footfall. The sun beats down.
James nears an intersection guarded on either side by a
Humvee and several SOLDIERS, when...
Suddenly a red-and-white TAXI swerves past the SOLDIERS on
the left side of the intersection. The soldiers take cover
and shout contradictory commands - Get Down Motherfucker!
Don't Move! Back up! Out of the vehicle!
The TAXI BRAKES in front of James.
Sanborn and Eldridge can hear the shouting but the lingering
smoke still obscures their sight.
(shouting to Sanborn)
Car! Car! A car stopped in front of
James' HEADSET WALKIE barks to life:
James pulls a pistol from his holster, and --
I got it.
-- shoots two rounds into the dirt, near the car's front
Impossible to read. Is he a taxi driver annoyed by the
roadblock, or an insurgent fighter getting ready to blow a
ONE OF THE ARMY SOLDIERS
With field glasses on the intersection he speaks into the
EOD has a nine on this Haji in the
car. I'm going to get two guys
over there to back him up.
Still can't see clearly. Processing this information. Turns
Eldridge using his rifle scope as well - shakes his head. No
(into walkie to soldier)
Negative, negative. You're too
close to the IED--
Stand down. EOD has the situation
Sweat on his forehead.
Now aiming at the windshield. But the driver is impassive.
Eldridge looks through his rifle scope.
(shouting to Sanborn)
We're in a kill zone!
James fires, shattering the windshield. But the car doesn't
James is pissed. He lunges through the windshield and jams
his gun into the driver's forehead.
Three or four rounds fired. The
nine is now pressing into the
The gun digs into the driver's forehead. Beat. The driver
shifts into reverse.
He rolls back to the soldiers, who then rush the car, yank
the driver out, and deliver a savage beating as James looks
(chuckling into his
If he wasn't an insurgent he sure
as hell is now.
And he resumes his walk towards the white garbage bag and the
rubble pile, noting possible threats -- a MAN in a window
down the road.
(coolly, into walkie)
But I have no idea what you're
talking about, Blaster One, since I
can't see you. Over.
I'll tell you later. James out.
PILE OF RUBBLE
One of a million in this city. James draws near. Two wires
protrude from the mess.
Moving quickly, he deftly removes rubble and trash to expose
the wires and the artillery shells they are attached to --
sees out of his peripheral vision the MAN in the window --
reaches for his pistol -- but the man disappears from view --
he then goes back to work, with swift sure hands. He loves
this, loves being close to oblivion.
The wires are exposed. He cuts one. Then flips the artillery
rounds over and cuts the other wire.
He stands and uses his big boot to clear more rubble. A
banana peel is pushed away, revealing:
Another wire snaking out of the ground.
James spins to look uprange. Sees Sanborn motioning for the
men to get down.
Off the wall, Owen!
Get behind something. Find cover.
Soldiers scrambling to find concrete to hide behind.
James YANKS the wire out of the dirt but it turns out to be
buried like a root, and the more he rips the more the wire is
revealed. He rips and rips, going back ten feet.
---The wire is stuck in the ground, and it will not come out
anymore. James digs with a knife -- FURIOUSLY moving earth --
until he reaches a third artillery shell, which he pulls out
of the ground.
--CU knife blade inside the shell --
--CU James' helmet - glass clouding over from condensation --
--ECU blasting cap --
--ECU knife tip separates the wire...
UPRANGE MOMENTS LATER
James strides uprange. Eldridge isn't sure what to make of
James. Sanborn is, but not ready to show it.
(gulping air as the helmet
Did you see that guy?
(smiles, recovers his
Man, I need a beer.
Sanborn begins the bomb suit removal ritual - unstrapping
We can arrange that.
He yanks at the strap - a little roughly.
What do you like?
Nice southern brand.
Yanks at another strap.
James looks down, the tone of Sanborn's voice and the force
of the strap gets his attention.
Eldridge picks up the pieces of the suit and places them into
the Humvee. Listening to this exchange.
I'd take a beer.
Hey, that wasn't too bad, for our
first time working together.
I think working together is I talk
to you. And you talk to me.
Are we going on a date, J.T.?
Sanborn stands, removing the last piece of the suit.
No, we're going on a mission. And
it's my job to keep you safe, so we
can keep going on missions.
Hey, this is combat.
With that James walks to the Humvee and gets inside.
Sanborn closes the trunk, hard, startling Eldridge. Eldridge
comes close, speaking out of James' earshot.
It's just thirty nine days.
Thirty eight. Assuming we survive
James is in the passenger seat, waiting impatiently. Sanborn
and Eldridge get in.
I don't mean to mix it up. But the
situation dictated it.
I'm serious. We're gonna work
together. You'll get used to my ops
Your ops tempo?
I don't always stop to chat, and I
like to go fast. You know, so the
insurgents don't have time to plan.
I don't want them make any cell
Off Sanborn's face.
INT. CAMP VICTORY MESS TENT DAY
Eldridge and Sanborn chowing down - two guys among a sea of
SOLDIERS. Behind them in the mess tent hang the signs of
various fast-food restaurants that cater to the troops: PIZZA
HUT, SUBWAY, BURGER KING.
Eldridge passes his ketchup over to Sanborn.
This is not Pizza Hut.
(removing a slice of
And this is not pepperoni. It's
round and meaty, but it ain't
Goat meat, probably.
Goat meat pepperoni? I'd be glad if
this was goat meat pepperoni.
I'd eat a truckload of goat meat
pepperoni. No, this is something
else. (slapping the fake pepperoni
on the table) This is unholy.
Pray for something better -- and
while you're at it, pray for a new
You sure you want to be the guy in
the bomb suit?
They see James at a food station.
Be better than him.
James approaches the table.
James sits down to an awkward silence. Eldridge stops eating.
That was some crazy shit you pulled
Hell yeah. You're either really
lucky or really good. Right up on
the car like that. Gun to the head.
Crazy. You know it might backfire
on you someday. You know that. You
might actually die. And then what?
James is puzzled.
I don't know, what?
You don't meet your maker. You just
get vaporized into little bits of
Sanborn watches Eldridge closely. Is he referring to
(trying to be helpful)
He asks everyone what they think
about death. Ever since Thompson
James nods, turns to Eldridge:
I don't think about it. Waste of
James goes back to eating. Eldridge keeps looking at him,
then lets it go.
EXT. CAMP VICTORY MESS TENT DAY
Midday in Iraq. The heat is oppressive, biblical.
James, Sanborn and Eldridge emerge into the blazing sun and
the tumult of the base. Trucks barrel by. And troops --
James stops in front of young Iraqi KID selling pirated DVDs,
while Sanborn and Eldridge continue on to the head shed. The
kid, whose name is PELE, has DVDs fanned on a table.
One for five, two for nine.
Three for twelve?
Three for thirteen. And for you, no
(laughing, fishes out a five) Keep
EXT HEAD SHED PORCH
Sanborn is smoking a cigarette and watching James buy DVDs,
weighing him, when the team's FIRST SERGEANT, stocky with a
paternal way about him, holds out a white envelope to
The tags finally came. Figured
you'd want to be the one to take
them over.(handing Sanborn the
Thanks, I will handle it.
The Sergeant nods. Sanborn stuffs the envelope in his back
pocket. And the Sergeant heads inside, walking past --
INT HEAD SHED SIDE OFFICE
A small office space with the door opened a crack. Behind the
door, Eldridge is sitting on a swivel chair, looking at a
computer screen, playing a computer game. Next to him in
another swivel chair is LT. COL. JOHN CAMBRIDGE, a MILITARY
PSYCHIATRIST, who is looking at Eldridge and the screen.
(singing the jingle)
"Be all that you can be," right?
But what if all I can be is dead on
the side of an Iraqi road?
LT. COL CAMBRIDGE
I'd like to see you move past this
feeling that you're going to die,
(looking at the screen)
Why? I think it's logical. This is
a war, right Doc? People die all
the time. Why not me?
LT. COL CAMBRIDGE
That's true. But what concerns me
is how much you think about it. You
have to change the record in your
head, think about other things.
What do you think about?
LT. COL CAMBRIDGE
I don't dwell on death.(looking at
his watch) I don't obsess. You
understand what I'm getting at?
Eldridge looks up at last.
EXT CAMP VICTORY JAMES' TRAILER NIGHT
James stands before the open door of his trailer with the
satellite phone in hand. Overhead a canopy of stars blinks.
Through the earpiece of the phone the faint but unmistakable
BEEP of an answering machine.
Hey, guess you're out...wherever
you are you're probably wearing
those tight jeans, damn those look
good... Anyway, Baghdad's alright,
guys are a little uptight down
here, but then they just lost a
brother so I understand...
uh...(looking up at the
stars)...really beautiful night,
wish you could see these
He disconnects. Sits in the darkness. Distant WASH of
INT CAMP VICTORY SHOWER STALLS NEXT MORNING
Sanborn is shaving in a mirror, otherwise dressed for combat
and ready to go, when James shuffles in wearing a T-shirt and
boxer shorts, looking like he just woke up.
Sanborn can't believe James is this relaxed.
James starts to brush his teeth.
I gotta talk to you about something
before we roll out.
James keeps brushing.
Yesterday -- that was not cool.
I know. We'll get it.
More tooth brushing. Face cleaning.
James notices a tatoo on Sanborn's forearm.
I was in Military Intel for seven
years. Before EOD. We ran combat
missions in every shit hole on the
(beat, smile on his face)
So I'm pretty sure I can figure out
a dumb trailer park redneck like
(spitting out water,
Looks like you're on the right
INT HUMVEE SOMEWHERE IN BAGHDAD MORNING
Sanborn drives. James in the passenger seat. Eldridge is in
the gunner's turret. They ride in silence, each man alone
with his thoughts.
DAYS LEFT IN BRAVO COMPANY'S ROTATION: 37
EXT ROAD BEHIND BRITISH EMBASSY DAY
A faded blue Opal sits by a high wall laced with concertina
wire. It's at the end of a narrow cul de sac which backs onto
The narrow cul de sac dog-legs into another street. At the
entrance to the cul de sac, there is a phalanx of SOLDIERS
and our EOD techs.
Sanborn and Eldridge are unloading the robot from the Humvee.
Other soldiers are evacuating OFFICE WORKERS from the
James seems frustrated with the situation - frowning into the
face of the SERGEANT in charge.
An office worker called it in. The
car doesn't belong to anyone who
works at the building. It's been
parked there for an hour. No
license plate and the suspension is
sagging, so there's something heavy
in the trunk -- three or four
hundred pounds. Could be a bomb.
Did you evacuate?
We're trying. But the English
Ambassador said we're supposed to
guarantee his safety.
Sanborn approaches, lap top in hand.
Bot is ready.
EXT ROAD BEHIND EMBASSY
A WOMAN in a Bhurka on a motorcycle rides past the Soldiers
and towards the Opal --
(raising his rifle)
Shit -- What do you want me to do?
We can't shoot her for riding a
-- CU the motorcyclist's hands, holding a MOLOTOV COCKTAIL.
It's hidden from view of the soldiers.
-- She rolls the cocktail under the car and darts down an
The car BURSTS into flames, and the scene breaks into --
-- Eldridge frantically straps James into the suit, as the
-- James takes off his sunglasses, cleans them, calmly.
-- Sanborn runs to the truck and returns with a fire
extinguisher, which he hands to James.
Eldridge - I want you in that
window - keep the alley clear.
Sanborn, cover it from the street.
Sanborn looks at the alley: not a happy place. Eldridge takes
off towards the Embassy entrance.
INT. AMBASSADOR'S OFFICE
AMBASSADOR SIR AUCKLAND GEDDES, the epitome of the old style
of British foreign service: elegant, self assured, a
gentleman adventurer in Seville Row, hoping to improve the
world, certain he'll profit in the attempt.
He's holding court with a group of EXECUTIVES. The executives
are seated around a conference table under the Ambassador's
sway. There's a model of a British Petroleum gas
station/convenience store, in English and Arabic, in the
center of the table.
...So in sixteen months time I
believe five million gallons per
day is in fact rather conservative.
SOUNDS out the window. An Executive turns his head nervously.
But security is still the big
The Ambassador brushes his hand in dismissal.
Only on the margins.
Everyday, the risks diminish and
the rewards multiply--
Ah, and here is EOD. You see
gentlemen, everything is fine. The
site is secure. The bomb -- if
there even is one -- will easily be
dispensed by the crack American
Eldridge rushes over to the window to see the street.
Blaster Mike, I'm at the window.
He's stationed himself near the mouth of the alley. Wisps of
smoke and flames in the air.
Copy that. How's the fire look from
Flames a meter high, over.
Close to the burning car. SMOKE rising from the hood and the
under carriage awash in FLAMES, like a sleeping dragon.
James sprays the fire-extinguisher and the fire subsides. He
inspects the interior - looks normal enough - and tries to
open the trunk with a pair of pliers, but the handle doesn't
give and snaps off under his effort. He kicks the trunk but
it remains shut. He turns and lumbers up range, jaw set.
Watching James walk back uprange.
Blaster One, what is going on?
Stay put, I'll be right back.
Standing alone in the kill zone at the mouth of the alley.
Good question. But I'm not liking
James is buried inside the Humvee, searching. He tosses what
he doesn't need, and a succession of items comes flying out --
food, clothing, a tarp. Now James walks back towards the Blue
Opal without saying a word. In his hand is a crowbar.
James winds up and swings hard at the door. Wham! Nope. Wham!
He drops the crowbar and tries the trunk. Presto, it opens,
revealing: a trunk overflowing with EXPLOSIVES -- ten times
what we've seen before. James is taken aback.
We're all in the kill zone on this
Sanborn stares at James and the car. Great.
Now inside the car, slipping on the slimy seats, he cuts the
seat cushions with his knife, and rips out the foam
upholstery, and finds more bad news buried underneath: SIX
ARTILLERY SHELLS and a WIRE that leads to the floorboard and
goes under the carpeting.
James DIVES to the wire and cuts it, then rips open the
carpet to reveal more wire -- and follows the wire through
the car, ripping apart the car PIECE by PIECE, cutting wire
as he goes.
An executive gets up to look out the window.
Sir, I'm going to need you to stay
away from the window.
Yes, please, sit down. It's safe.
Why is he here, if it's safe?
He is just an observer.
Is that true, we're safe here?
In my opinion, no.
Executives take this as a cue to leave. Getting up, shuffling
out of the room. The Ambassador is furious at Eldridge,
advancing on him.
This is idiotic. Why not tow the
vehicle away from the building?
I believe the lane is too narrow
for a Humvee, Sir.
Donkeys. Use donkeys.
I don't believe we have any of
those on hand, Sir.
Jesus, Lord. You Americans really
are incompetent. No donkeys on
hand? What do you think I'm
talking about, a full squadron of
Eldridge trying to stay on task.
(cutting him off)
Go downstairs, grab a farmer or one
of those street vendors and procure
- meaning purchase, buy - several
donkeys. Then tow this car bomb
away from my office.
Sir, I'm going to need you to step
away from the window.
Geddes looks out the window at the burning car.
His walkie barks to life.
(over Sanborn's walkie)
Lot of pink Det cord here.
Where's the switch?
Not in the back seat.
James is now in the front seat, tearing up the upholstery.
Not in the front seat. Doors. Dash.
A WISP of smoke curls out of the heating vents. James doesn't
If you haven't found it yet, it's
probably under the car.
None of the cord goes under. It's
up here -- somewhere.
Try the weather-stripping.
James rips off a chunk of weather stripping. Just bare metal.
It's been thirty seconds. You need
I can find it.
He crawls to the back seat, slipping on the foam and slime.
More smoke escapes from the vents.
James, seriously, you need to bail.
Roger that. Be right out.
James retraces what's left of the wire, yet again, ignoring
Sanborn. He sits back in the seat, strangely relaxed.
A shadow comes into Sanborn's sight. It's an IRAQI on a
bicycle, riding straight towards him.
Sanborn raises his rifle. The man peddles on, waving his
Where is the entrance to this
The bicyclist looks at the car.
Trains his scope on the head of the bicyclist.
I'm going to burn him on three.
Geddes just looks at the big man at the window.
Oh, that's rich. Give him a count.
Through Eldridge's scope the bicyclist grows. He flicks off
Blaster Mike, do you copy?
(TO HIMSELF) )
Please don't make me kill you.
Been in combat very long?
(into walkie to Eldridge)
James, you need to get out. There's
another potential bomber here.
BACK TO JAMES
So shoot him.
BACK TO SANBORN
I need to make a delivery down
there. Please let me through.
Negative, Negative. Hold your fire.
(shouting at bicyclist)
Get the fuck out of here!
The bicyclist does an about face, but not before casting a
last suspicious glance back at the car bomb.
Sanborn refocuses on the Opal; he's losing his cool.
Blaster One, do you copy, over?
Still sitting in the back seat. Now he sees the smoking vent.
Gimmie a minute.
Eyes never leaving the street below, flicks the safety of his
rifle back on.
Geddes notices the sweat on Eldridge's face, and feels a
sudden surge of sympathy for the younger man.
Well done. That took great self
Thank you, sir. Again, I apologize
for the intrusion into --
Yes, but I doubt the insurgents
will appreciate your restraint.
(in a kindly, paternal tone)
If I may give you a piece of free
advice, next time, pull the
Well, actually, the uh--rules --
That's the only way out, I'm
afraid. When you're in a losing
battle, you have to draw blood. No
insurgency in modern history has
ever been truly defeated, so all
you can do is manage your exit.
Clear a wide swath of bodies so you
have room to withdraw.
Suddenly the office door opens and a YOUNG AIDE appears.
The building is empty, Sir, except
Geddes nods, grabs his coat and moves to Eldridge for one
I'm sorry to say it, but that's
just how it's done. You need to
show some vigor. In Kenya, we
executed the insurgents in their
beds, until they gave us room.
Falklands, the same. That's just
how it's done.
Eldridge looks up, he's had enough. Swings around.
Is that how you did it in Northern
Ireland? With murder?
There you are. Now you're showing
J.T, the building is clear now. We
can pull out.
Roger that. (to James) Will, we can
pull out. The building is
Still no answer.
Blaster One, we are cleared to
leave this fucking site. Walk away.
Do you copy, over?
Stay where you are, Sanborn. I'm
And with that, James turns off his walkie. CLICK.
J.T., are we moving?
I didn't copy that. Did you say
Roger. We are staying until James
James, what's the situation?
Goddamn, Will, I need a report.
James' POV. He sees in the corner of the back seat, having
just wiped away a puddle of fire retardant, a little black
box, with a wire leading out of it. He grabs the box.
The black box goes flying out of the car.
EXT MOUTH OF CUL DE SAC
Sanborn is furious, stalking ahead of James as they return
Sanborn passes Eldridge, who has come down from the
Take the suit.
James' face looks flushed, red, sweat dripping. Eldridge
begins ripping apart the Velcro from James' legs.
James sits in the car, smoking.
Sanborn leans into the window.
Sanborn JABS him in the jaw, knocking the cigarette out.
Don't you turn off your walkie
Sanborn stalks off and James explodes out of the car.
He crouches down -- searching the floor of the Humvee. Sees
his cigarette, damaged and dirty on the mucky floor, but
still burning. He extracts it and carefully cleans it off,
then jumps on the hood of the Humvee and goes back to his
smoke. He's calm as can be. The Marlboro man.
As he puffs away, watching Sanborn converse with a group of
SOLDIERS, a JEEP drives up.
COLONEL REED jumps out wearing a uniform covered in army
bling - medals he won a long time ago, before he traveled up
the food chain. An AIDE trots along beside him.
James turns around.
(points to James)
That you in the bomb suit?
Yes, sir, it was.
(reading his name tag)
You were the guy in the flaming
car, Sergeant James?
James is concerned.
Well hot damn, that was some hot
shit. You're a wild man, you know
The Colonel spins his head around to Eldridge.
He's a wild man, you know that?
(back to James)
Let me shake your hand.
Extending his meaty paw.
Thank you, sir.
Slapping him on the back.
How many bombs have you disarmed,
James seems slightly self-conscious. Eldridge listens in.
Hell, I'm not sure. A lot.
Sergeant, I asked you a question.
One seven three. Counting today,
Holy shit. One hundred and seventy
fucking three bombs. God damn. That
must be a record. So tell me,
what's the best way to go about
disarming one of these things?
James doesn't answer as he looks at the black box. Finally:
The way you don't die.
Good one, spoken like a wild man.
I'd like a picture with this man -
anybody here have a camera?
A nearby soldier holds a digital camera up to his eye.
Colonel Reed smiles big, arm draped around James's shoulders.
Thanks, sir, thank you very much.
Sir, couldn't do it without my team
(looking around for Sanborn) Hey,
Sanborn! Get over here!
Sanborn trots over, glowering.
(to Col. Reed)
This here is Sergeant Sanborn, the
key to the whole team.
(rubbing it in)
And Specialist Eldridge.
Colonel Reed extends his hand. Sanborn is shocked.
You guys should all get Bronze
stars and I'm gonna recommend it.
Thank you, Sir. Thank you, Sir.
Good luck, boys. Keep on keeping
FEW FEET AWAY
Out of earshot Colonel Reed addresses his aide.
You wouldn't catch me walking down
on no fuckin' bomb. Hell no,
you're not gonna get me in that
James sits in the front with his IPOD earphones on. Lost to
Eldridge starts to climb into the turret. Before he does he
speaks softly to Sanborn.
I don't care, (not caring that
James may overhear) the guy is not
safe. You can have mine and I'll
pin it on your coffin.
So you do think I'm going to die.
Fuck, Owen. I don't know. Probably
EXT CAMP VICTORY WEAPONS DISCHARGE STATION AFTERNOON
James, Sanborn and Eldridge are discharging their weapons,
dry firing them into steel drums. Clicking of ammunition.
EXT CAMP VICTORY FIRST SERGEANT'S TRAILER AFTERNOON
James steps out, grabs a smoke, as a soccer ball rolls beside
him. It's Pele's. Inviting James to play.
James picks it up, and carries it over to a pile of sandbags
and sits down. Pele runs up.
Give me my five bucks and I'll give
you your ball.
Five dollars - for what?
Those DVDs were crap. They were so
fuzzy I couldn't see a thing.
I'm telling you, they were fuzzy.
That's Hollywood, my man. Special
The boy's chutzpa amuses James. He's starting to like this
What's your name anyway?
Oh yeah - like the soccer player?
Yes, the great Pele
James gets up. Motions for the kid to give him space.
Ready? One, two --
He smashes the ball in Pele's direction -- it flies up. Pele
blocks it easily, kicking high in the air.
-- three. Shit.
Pele comes back over to James, who has sat back down. He
notices the bomb patch on James' uniform.
(pointing to the patch)
So you are EOD -- boomala boomala.
It's fun, no?
I like to disarm them. Tell you
what, kid, I'll buy another DVD
from you but if this one is fuzzy
you better watch out. Cause I'm
coming for you.
INT CAMP VICTORY MESS TENT DAY
Sanborn and Eldridge eat together. In the corner of the room,
James is eating alone in a sea of soldiers.
INT CAMP VICTORY HEAD SHED
Eldridge and the psychiatrist are back in session.
What if I should be pulling the
trigger more often? Killing people?
LT. COL. CAMBBRIDGE
That's not your mission. Your
mission is to protect life. Render
But what if I need to change the
mission - to survive? That
bicyclist I told you about? I'm
ninety percent sure he was an
insurgent. I could have shot him.
Not my mission. But it would have
LT. COL. CAMBBRIDGE
You don't have to turn into an
animal just to protect yourself.
LT. COL. CAMBBRIDGE
And you know this from your
extensive work in the field.
LT. COL. CAMBBRIDGE
I've done my field duty.
Where was that? Yale?
LT. COL CAMBRIDGE
Look, Specialist, if you want to
stop talking to me, you can. These
sessions are voluntary. You chose
to be here, talking to me, just
like you chose the Army, just like
you chose EOD. You're in an elite
volunteer unit. Not many guys have
the IQ or the nerves to do it. Be
proud of it.
Eldridge considers this. The psychiatrist taps his pencil.
Keep the soldier in the fight and
the fight in the soldier, right
Eldridge puts out his hand, and they shake.
Seriously, I appreciate what you're
saying. But you need to get out
from behind this desk more.
INT CAMP VICTORY LAUNDRY ROOM NIGHT
James is watching his clothes dry as they tumble around the
Sanborn comes in with a pile of laundry. Sees James.
Sanborn stuffs his laundry into a machine. James is still
watching the drier, starts to speak.
If you ever get in my shoes and put
on the bomb suit you'll see your
whole mind changes when you're in
front of a bomb. You lose 20 IQ
points just from the weight of the
suit. Your brain gets so much
adrenaline that you hallucinate.
Turn off the walkie?
Sanborn stares straight ahead.
You'll be lucky if all you do is
turn off the walkie.
Off the spinning dryer, we --
EXT BAGHDAD SOMEWHERE IN THE CITY MID AFTERNOON
Heat playing tricks with light on the ribbon of road -
imaginary water pooling on the surface.
Again, the auditory landscape of Baghdad: distant CALL to
prayer and the incessant RAT-TAT-TAT of gunfire.
DAYS LEFT IN BRAVO COMPANY'S ROTATION: 23
James is walking uprange with a large artillery shell. It
looks very heavy and he's sweating profusely.
He brings the bomb to the Humvee where Sanborn and Eldridge
are waiting. They're also suffering in the heat. They take
the shell from him, and stow it in the truck.
How are we on water? I'm dying.
J.T.'s got some.
No. I'm all out.
James just looks at him.
EXT BAGHDAD PURGATORY DAY
We're at the south end of an EXPLOSIVES DISPOSAL RANGE,
nicknamed, `Purgatory' -- an empty expanse of dirt pockmarked
with craters and bordered on one side by a small number of
BOOM!!! A huge bomb explodes, sending dust and debris into
the air in a mini mushroom cloud...We move across the field
with the cloud, and settle where our EOD team is positioned
by their Humvee.
Sanborn has a remote detonator in his hand and is about to
Fire in the hole. Fire in the hole
James interrupts --
Hold on a second. I think I forgot
my gloves back there.
James jumps into the Humvee and drives down range, reversing
the course we just took. It's a long way to the explosives,
at least half a mile, and Sanborn and Eldridge watch him
recede in the distance.
James is a tiny figure, ambling around the explosives pile.
There's nobody else around.
Sanborn looks down at the detonator in his hand. Eldridge
notices the look.
Those detonators break all the
time. Accidental misfire.
With that shot laid out like that,
it could be a UXO that just cooks
A shot that size would obliterate
everything in its path.
His helmet, you'd have that.
Oh yeah, there'd be half a helmet
And little bits of hair stuck to
Little bits of hair.
We'd have to recommend a major
change in techniques and protocols
so that kind of accident never
happens again. You'd write the
first draft of the report.
Are you serious?
I'm not going to write it.
No, are you serious about killing
-- Sanborn looks up at Eldridge. Smiles.
James starts driving back uprange.
EXT FIELD OUTSKIRTS OF BAGHDAD LATE AFTERNOON
Another dusty nowhere. The EOD team is stopped in the middle
of a road that cuts through a swath of desert.
At the roadside are several SOLDIERS and their vehicles. The
soldiers look sunburned, tired.
Sanborn and Eldridge are near the soldiers, looking down the
road where --
DAYS LEFT IN BRAVO COMPANY'S ROTATION: 17
James is inside a CRATER in the middle of the road, working
on an EIGHT-FOOT MISSILE. He attaches A ROCKET WRENCH, a
metal band with two explosive tubes, to the nose of the
missile -- and flips a switch.
The two tubes ignite like a firecracker, shooting small
flames. Then the flames grow and band spins and FLIES off,
ZIPPING into the air above James' head like a metal frisbee,
landing fifty feet away.
James peers into the nose cone. A hollow void.
James? Do you copy? James?
He climbs to the top of the crater.
EXT/INT CRATER MOMENTS LATER
The soldiers are gathered around the pit to see EOD work.
It's not everyday you get to see an eight foot missile towed
out of a hole.
James is down in the pit. Sanborn hands him a chain. Working
together, they wrap it around the missile. When they're done,
Sanborn signals Eldridge, who is behind the wheel of the
Humvee, ready to tow the missile out of the crater.
Rock it out, slowly.
The chain creaks, then stops. The tires spin uselessly.
Try gunning it.
The tires only spin faster.
Sanborn moves to get a closer look. His knees come very near
to the creaking chain.
(seeing this from the pit)
Sanborn, watch that chain.
KA-BOOOOM -- the sky flashes orange overhead --James flat on
his back, dazed. A shard of metal ZOOMS into the pit, missing
him by inches -- as the soldiers dive into the pit for cover,
shouting "RPG, RPG!"
Eldridge, who is in the driver's seat, starts shooting his M4
What am I shooting at?
Sanborn jumping into the Humvee.
I don't fucking know! -- but James
He fires in the same direction as Eldridge. The Humvee gets
peppered with bullets. The armor holds. But it doesn't look
like it's going to last for much longer.
Sanborn grabs Eldridge. And they dive back into the pit,
joining James and THREE SOLDIERS: a SERGEANT one PRIVATE and
a CORPORAL who is a SNIPER.
James is sitting up, taking off his bomb suit. He appears to
One of the soldiers is in the turret of a Humvee, firing the
big .50 machine gun in all directions.
Get up there with your Barret and
help him out.
[Note: Barret is the large .50 SNIPER RIFLE carried by one of
the soldiers, a specialty gun with an extremely long range.]
The SNIPER hoists the heavy gun to the edge of the crater and
looks down the scope.
As he does, Sanborn, Eldridge, and James, and the other
soldiers pop up and lay down covering fire. Then they quickly
pop back down.
The soldier in the Humvee is still churning his machine gun,
shooting in all directions, expending hundreds of bullets a
I don't see nothing out there.
Chris is shooting wild.
Hey Chris - can you hear me? Chill
out on the fifty man.
The soldier in the Humvee fires a few more seconds. Picks up
-- As a bullet hits him in the neck, killing him instantly.
Holy shit. He killed Chris.
Everyone in the pit pops up and fires in every direction, a
A soldier picks up his walkie and keys it. We can't hear him
talking over the retorts of the soldiers firing rifles.
The men are pinned down, paralyzed by fear. Sniper fire from
one of the buildings rakes the top of the crater.
-- Bullets kick up sand on the far side of the crater,
opposite the men.
-- Eldridge looks like he's having a heart attack. This is
how it ends, he thinks.
--James seems preternaturally calm.
After a while --
We should save our ammo at least
until we can see these bastards.
The Sergeant takes off his pack, and pulls out a pair of
binoculars. Inching up to the edge of the crater, where he
joins the SNIPER
Do you see anything.
It's got to be coming from those
buildings. Somebody moved on the
roof of the tall one there.
We see the buildings in the distance. They look too far away
to be threatening.
Hit him if you see him again.
As suddenly --
The SNIPER is hit in the breastbone.
Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Jesus.
In the pit: total meltdown. This is it. The day you die.
Everyone starts talking at once.
Man we got to get out of I'll get on the Barret.
Don't do that J.T. Shit. Okay. We need help.
(INTO WALKIE) )
This is Alpha Nine. We're in
deep shit. Over.
DISPATCH (O.S.) JAMES
Roger that, Alpha Nine. Go (to Sergeant)
ahead. Let me see those binocs.
The Sergeant hands the binocs to James.
We are taking incoming fire. I have
two KIA. The grid --
James gives Sanborn a look. He leans in to say something to
Sanborn, which we can't hear.
Over the Sergeant's walkie:
I know where you are Alpha. Go
Sanborn crawls into the SNIPER's position, moving the dead
body out of the way. James follows next to him to observe
with the binocs
Copy that. Okay. Can you get us
(to James and Sanborn)
Don't do that fellas.
Sanborn is already shooting. The SNIPER RIFLE puts down
bullets slowly. It has a clip of six rounds. One by one
Sanborn expends them.
Eldridge, I need ammo.
Eldridge pulls two clips of ammunition off the bloody chest
of the dead sniper.
(looking through the
You're shooting high.
Eldridge hands the ammo to Sanborn, who jams the clip in the
rifle, and then adjusts the sight. He pulls the trigger. The
Clear it, clear it. (the clip is
removed, passed to James) Eldridge
clean the bullets. The blood is
making them jam.
Eldridge is handed the bloody clips. He pops the bullets out,
one by one, and tries to clean them. But the blood is sticky.
A bullet slips out of his hand, rolls down the crater. The
soldier helps him by picking up the bullet and cleaning it.
James looks back to see Eldridge's progress.
Spit on `em Eldridge. Spit. Rub.
Eldridge is trying. He's really trying.
Come on, Eldridge. I need ammo.
James sees that Eldridge is not getting it and he draws close
You're doing good, man. (putting
his hand on Eldridge's shoulder).
Eldridge nods. His mind is there but his hands are disobeying
him. James attempts to clear his head.
I will keep you safe, Owen, that's
The soldier hands the ammo to James.
(to both of them)
Alright. Scan your sectors.
Then Eldridge positions himself so he's looking in the
opposite direction that James and Sanborn are looking.
Sanborn fires two more rounds.
Still high, adjust your windage.
SNIPER RIFLE POV
The roof of the tall building in the distance bobs in and out
of view. At this great range, the scope dances.
He's on the left by the smoke
stack. Guy in white.
Sanborn fires once. He turns his head away from the gun and
makes an audible exhale to release tension -- the sniper
breath control technique.
Good. There's another one just
behind him. Up a meter.
Sanborn fires once. Audible exhale.
James scans the area. Silence.
CRATER AN HOUR LATER
The sun lower in the sky. Around the pit, the fallen soldier
has been pushed to one side, and the living are hanging on to
Eldridge and the remaining soldier have exhausted their water
Sanborn and James are in EXACTLY the same position as when we
left them. Focused. Sanborn's finger on the trigger. Sanborn
breathes out, the sniper breathing. He's been doing this for
an hour, time and the desert heat have taken their toll.
Sanborn blinks sweat away.
The scope BLURS. He regains focus.
Noticing Sanborn's fatigue.
Eldridge, grab me the juice out of
Eldridge digs around the DEAD SOLDIER'S backpack and
retrieves a packet of juice, which he passes to James.
James inserts the straw into the juice pack.
He hesitates, not sure if Sanborn will accept the gesture
after all the hostility that's passed between them. But he
brings the straw to Sanborn's lips.
At first, Sanborn keeps his attention on the rifle scope. But
then he opens his parched mouth, and sips.
--Suddenly, there's movement, a flutter of fabric, in the
distance off Eldridge's shoulder. He stiffens.
At my one o'clock. Two hundred
meters. Something moved behind a
parked car. Either a tan dog or a
man in a light-colored shirt.
Deal with it.
Eldridge looks down his scope, unsure. James keeps his focus
forward on the building.
I don't think it's a dog. Should I
It's your call.
Eldridge shifts his weight onto his rifle.
There's a flutter of movement in the distance.
Eldridge pulls the trigger. Spraying the car in the distance.
Empties his entire magazine.
From behind the car, something falls to the ground, and the
tiniest sliver of a rifle clatters after it.
The soldier in the pit comes over to Eldridge to see what
Good hit, man.
James and Sanborn don't turn around.
Eldridge slumps, spent.
CRATER TWO HOURS LATER
Sun casting long shadows.
James and Sanborn in the same focused position. Eldridge
still watches the rear.
The soldier in the pit reaches his breaking point.
I'm going to go for the Humvee.
What do you say?
I don't know.
We've been here two hours and they
ain't seen nothing. I'm going to go
And with that he dashes up and out of the crater.
Sanborn keeps his eye on the scope.
The soldier runs to the Humvee, gets in, and turns the
vehicle around, driving it back to the pit.
He dives out of the vehicle and back to the pit.
Those fuckers are dead.
What if they hit us with an RPG
when we get out? What if they were
just waiting for us to get in the
It's safe. I'm telling you
You got those fuckers.
The soldier jumps out of the pit. Stands in the middle of the
road. A sitting duck.
(to men in the pit)
See? You got them.
(turning to building,
We got you mother fuckers. You're
fucking dead Hajis. Haha.
The soldier pulls down his pants and moons the building.
Kiss this mother fucker!!!
James lowers his binocs. Sanborn lowers his rifle.
They exchange a mirthful look.
INT CAMP VICTORY JAMES' TRAILER NIGHT
James and Sanborn face each other; both men are red-faced,
Sanborn nods. Wham! Sanborn reels back from the punch. James
is standing over him. Glowering. He looks good. The rage is
like a vitamin.
Now we're even.
Sanborn stumbles back, recovers. Around them in James' room
are the remains of an Irish wake: two bottles of Scotch,
already empty. A third half gone. Cigarettes burned down in
Be right back. I gotta piss.
As Sanborn stumbles out, James turns to Eldridge
One more, boy.
(imitating a young
Yes, Sir, Sergeant James Sir.
You're not very good drunk are you
SIR!! You're a good fighter, Sir.
Natural born warrior, Sir.
You acquitted yourself well on the
field of battle today.
Really? I got scared.
Everyone is a coward at some point
in their lives.
Sanborn comes in. He sees a box under James' bed. Sanborn
picks up the box under James' bed and plops it on the table,
intentionally breaking up the love-fest between James and
Hey Owen, look! Will has
possessions! I didn't know you
owned anything, Will.
Sanborn pulls a picture frame out of the box. It's a picture
of a baby boy. Eldridge leans in.
That's my son. A real tough little
bastard. Like me.
So you're married?
James is uncomfortable with the subject. Intimacy isn't easy
for him. He rolls his eyes, nods.
Well, she was my girlfriend, we had
a baby, then she became my wife,
then we got divorced. (pause) I
thought we got divorced. (pause)
But she's still in the house, and
she says we're still together.
So, I don't know. What does that
Dumb, to be with you?
She ain't dumb. She's loyal.
My problem is the one girl who I
like keeps talking about kids.
Give her your sperm, stud.
Nah. I'm not ready.
(looking around the box,
finds a circuit board.) )
And what's this?
Sanborn sees there are many such parts in the box.
No shit. Why do you have them?
James reaches into the box. Pulls out a circuit. Looks at it
This is from the Blue Opal. (to
himself) It's wild, isn't it, to
hold something in your hands that
could have killed you. (he tosses
the board to Sanborn)
Eldridge leans over, pulls another board out of the box. He's
fascinated by James' obsession.
What's this one from?
(warming to the attention)
That was one of our early roadside
bombs we disarmed, the one with --
(looking at the board)
--it's a piece of junk from Radio
James shrugs. He reaches over to get the circuit board from
Sanborn, who clearly doesn't share his fascination.
In the distance, sound of BOMBS going off. The men pause to
The only reason he likes you is
because you act like his bitch, and
you look up to him, and he likes to
be the top dog.
I agree with that too.
Oh no, (picking up James' pistol)
The humiliation is too great to
bear. (he pulls the trigger while
slipping out the clip). Good-bye
The gun clicks harmlessly. Eldridge laughs.
A gust of wind rattles the front door.
That punch was harder than I hit
you. I'm owed a good one.
Hold on, we need some rules. No
James lifts off his shirt, getting into fighting mode.
Eldridge picks up a marker and begins to draw a bulls-eye on
James' stomach, stopping when he sees a cluster of scars.
Beauty mark, my mother dropped me
Looks like frag scars.
Sanborn slugs James. James doubles over, loses his balance
and falls back. James gets up, laughing so hard it hurts.
Tears of laughter falling down his face.
Ahhhh! Excellent. Now your turn.
Sanborn braces for the blow. James gets ready to strike, then
fakes a swing -- his fist stops just shy of Sanborn's cheek.
Sanborn's eyes go wide as -- James nails him with his other
hand, right in the gut -- Sanborn doubles over.
Looks like it hurt.
Moving forward aggressively, suddenly James looks like he
could kill. A complete change in his demeanor, as wind rocks
the trailer, causing the light bulb to rattle and cast a
-- then James rushes Sanborn, tackling him -- they crash into
the corner of the room -- in a flash James is on top of
Sanborn, pinning him -- Sanborn moves to punch James but
James pins his hands -- James taps Sanborn lightly on the
cheek, caressing his cheek.
There there. It'll be okay.
Get off of me you freak.
Sanborn tries to buck James off. Forcefully raising his hips.
Oh yeah, ride me, ride me.
Sanborn reaches for his boot knife. He flicks it open, brings
the blade to James' throat. Their eyes lock. James dismounts,
laughing. Stumbles back to the table.
You're alright, Sanborn. Let's have
EXT CAMP VICTORY LATER
The wind is blowing harder, kicking up sand. Overhead, a full
moon is blazing.
James looks up at the moon. It's dazzling. James and Eldridge
support Sanborn as they weave towards Eldridge's trailer.
I got him.
Eldridge passes Sanborn off to James, and heads up the stairs
to his trailer.
Sanborn sags. James pulls him back. They walk a little
farther to Sanborn's trailer --
Okay. Here we go big boy.
And half carries Sanborn up the steps.
INT. SANBORN'S TRAILER
James eases Sanborn onto a cot, and as he falls onto the cot,
the WHITE ENVELOPE falls out of his pocket.
Do you think I have what it takes
to get in the bomb suit?
James didn't expect this.
James picks up the white envelope and puts it on Sanborn's
He looks back. Sanborn is already asleep.
EXT CAMP VICTORY AFTER MIDNIGHT
The whole camp is asleep but James is standing outside,
holding a satellite phone. He's swaying. Drunk.
James, my God, what time is it? Are
I'm doing fine, babe. How are you?
Well, you woke me up. But - ah - we
- we're fine. (getting more lively)
Will junior said "bobba" He means
bottle, but he's talking, Will.
James looks around the camp. All he sees is its immensity,
the tremendous scope of the operation. This is military
might, raw power. As good as it gets.
Great. I'll call you tomorrow when
Will, I can't wait until you come
(trying his best to mean
Yeah, me too.
Will you call me again soon?
Sure. Bye honey.
James hits the END button on the phone and walks up the steps
to his trailer --
INT JAMES TRAILER LATER THAT NIGHT
He stumbles inside, drops the satellite phone down on his
desk, next to his bomb suit helmet, and sinks into bed. He
lies there, clothed and awake, and stares at the helmet,
looking at his reflection in the polished glass.
Then James reaches over to the helmet and lifts it up, hefts
He puts the helmet on his head.
Alone in his bed, wearing his helmet.
Smiling behind the glass, for he now he can sense the bomb,
and feel his nearness to death.
We hear the RASP of his breathing.
INT SANBORN'S TRAILER MORNING
Sanborn blinks awake to a painfully bright sun. He shifts his
attention to the white envelope on the table.
INT CAMP VICTORY WAREHOUSE DAY
A SOLDIER wearing glasses is talking to Sanborn.
What can I do for you?
I have something?
Sanborn reaches into his back pocket, withdraws the white
envelope. He opens it. Inside are Thompson's DOG TAGS. He
crumples the envelope, lets it fall to the floor. And grips
the tags tightly.
What's the name?
Thompson, Matt. Sergeant EOD. Baker
(looking at a form)
Okay let me see. He's at three-
three-eight. (looking) third aisle
down the hall.
Sanborn turns to look, and now we see where he's standing: in
the MORTUARY AFFAIRS UNIT, in a large room filled with white
boxes. It looks like an art installation, each white box
spaced evenly in a cavernous space.
I'll walk you over there.
They walk down the aisles, passing rows and rows of white
boxes, and finally stop.
The soldier opens one.
Inside are a pair of boots. A stack of clothes. Books.
Photographs. The remains of a life.
Here you go. Did you know him?
Sanborn places the tags on the uniform in the box.
Yeah, I did. He was my team leader.
Oh, I'm sorry brother.
They walk up the aisles, again passing the rows of white
At the entrance, Sanborn turns. The soldier offers his hand.
They shake warmly.
Thank you. Thank you.
The soldier, a little perplexed at Sanborn's gratitude,
doesn't know what to say.
Sanborn leaves, notices the empty ENVELOPE on the floor.
Litter. He picks it up and stuffs it back into his pocket.
INT MESS TENT DAY
James and Eldridge eat in hung-over silence.
After a while...
Wind picks up. The whole tent shakes.
Aren't you supposed to be at your
I fired him. I said, Doc, shooting
a man had a salubrious effect on
What the hell does that mean?
You're healthy? Well, why not.
They go back to eating.
Sanborn joins James and Eldridge.
What's up team?
They nod silently as he sits. Sluggishly he throws his hand
down on the table.
Can I get a Huu-haa?
Eldridge slaps a tired hand on top of Sanborn's. James
follows suit. They wearily lift their arms in mock
All at once: "Huu-haa."
Sanborn wolfs down some food.
I'm going back to sleep now.
They get up to bus their trays. And nearing the dirty-tray
bin, the flaps of the tent billow more and more vigorously.
Outside, a storm is brewing.
Each man unfurls the checkered scarf around their neck and
wraps their face for the wind.
EXT CAMP VICTORY DAY
Wind rakes sand and dust over the tent city, giving it an
otherworldly aspect. Throngs of men and vehicles fight the
swirl. It impedes their every move.
The three men continue onwards, as the intensity of the storm
EXT HEAD SHED DAY
The storm is HOWLING now. Visibility is reduced to a few
feet. Red sand blows mercilessly. It's Mars.
DAYS LEFT IN BRAVO COMPANY'S ROTATION: 16
As they approach the head shed, a Humvee comes blasting out
of the storm from the other direction. It skids to a halt in
front of them.
Three wounded EOD TECHS and an EOD TEAM LEADER tumble out.
They look awful. One step shy of death. One man's face is
smeared brown. Blood oozes from a deep gash in his cheek.
Another tech is covered in black soot. Their hands still
clutch their weapons -- the battle still wages in their
(shouting to James)
It was a car bomb. Fucking nasty
one -- they had a decoy detonator
set up so that when I disarmed it
nothing happened -- then, I'm
walking back uprange to get some
more tools and boooom!!! If I
hadn't been wearing the suit, I'd
be dead right now.
Get a Medic to look at your cheek.
The wounded TEAM LEADER touches his face and blood smears on
his hand...he looks down...surreal to see your own blood.
The First Sergeant trots over.
(amazed at the sight of
HIS BLOOD) )
It's no big deal.
(now turning his attention
back to James) )
Be careful. They're starting to
hide the detonator really well.
The FIRST SERGEANT turns his attention to James:
Sorry to ruin your day off, but
your team is up.
James blinks back sand and dust blowing into his eyes.
So much for the nap.
INT HUMVEE CAMP VICTORY PARKING LOT
Lt. COL. CAMBRIDGE knocks on the window. Startling the men.
His face appears in the sand storm.
LT. COL. CAMBRIDGE
Are you guys about to go out?
LT. COL. CAMBRIDGE
Mind if I ride along? I'm sick to
death of sitting behind a desk all
James shoots Eldridge a look. Eldridge shrugs.
Anytime, Sir. It's a privilege.
The LT. COL. CAMBRIDGE gets in. As they drive out.
Don't mean to insult your
intelligence, Sir. But if the shit
hits the fan, please don't fire out
of these windows. They're bullet
proof and the round will just
bounce around the cabin.
EXT. ABU GRAIB CENTER BOMBED OUT BUILDING DAY
A partially destroyed building fills the screen. A mess of
bricks and rebar. Wind swirls sand up into the air.
Nearby, an OLD IRAQI MAN with a DONKEY drawn cart is
unloading new bricks to repair the building.
Farther up the road, a good distance from the building, are
two parked Humvees. Nearby, James and his team are talking to
a small cluster of SOLDIERS.
(pointing back at the
Right up those stairs.
You been inside already?
In there? Fuck no. We've had
reports of all kinds of shit coming
out of that house -- and--
James takes his eyes off the building and turns to the
James turns to Cambridge.
Why don't you wait here? We'll
bring out anything of interest.
INT BOMBED OUT BUILDING LATE MORNING
James, Sanborn and Eldridge enter a landing. The floor is
very wet. They cross it, and come to a room that has been
severely damaged by a bomb, with rubble everywhere and
exposed electrical wires dangling from the ceiling, and
busted pipes gushing water.
A tea pot sits on a STOVE, steaming hot, and a plate on the
table has bread on it.
James bends the gushing pipe, stemming the flow of water to a
trickle. Now the spitting wire hanging above the water pipe
looks less ominous. But not by much.
They continue down a narrow corridor, light diminishing. They
switch on the lights on their M4s. The corridor ends at a
This would be a great place to put
a pressure activator.
Yeah, with like twenty pounds of
high explosives on it so you get
anyone in the room when you open
Eldridge uncoils rope from his pack and hands it to James,
who makes a lasso and tosses it over the doorknob.
EXT BOMBED OUT BUILDING
James yanks the rope -- we follow the rope inside through the
kitchen to the doorknob, watching it turn. No bomb.
They head back in.
INT DOOR/STAIRS BOMBED OUT BUILDING
Ascending a staircase. James unstraps a flash grenade from
his vest and heaves it onto the floor above. They stick
their fingers in their ears...
Blinding FLASH and DEAFENING sound. Then silence. No
Guess no one's home.
Blaster One, what was that?
Sorry, one of ours, just a flash
They come to a landing that opens up to the second floor.
A large cavernous space filled with what looks like Santa's
bomb making factory: A pile of motherboards. Batteries. Boom
boxes. Electronics in various states of disassembly. In
another corner, stacks of artillery shells. Blocks of C4
In the back half of the room, there is a work table, and on
the table is a DEAD BODY of a young man, wearing pants but no
shirt. A JACKET draped is over its torso and face. Even for
these hardened EOD experts, the sight is unnerving, and the
copper smell of spilt blood and death is staggering,
James, Sanborn and Eldridge approach the body cautiously.
James pulls a retractable aluminum pole from his pack and
telescopes it to its maximum length, about 10 feet, and uses
the pole to lift the jacket. Gently. The FACE appears.
All that we can determine about this face is that it is
young. The distinguishing lines of the nose and cheeks are so
covered by bruises and blood and further obscured by the
shadows and dappled light, that it could be the face of
almost any young man.
The violence done to the face exerts an odd pull on James.
The kid at camp.
He sells DVDs.
No, that's not him.
You see him every day. He sells
DVDs by the mess tent. His name is
This is sick.
The dead young man's chest has been cut open. An artillery
shell is shoved inside the cavity where the heart used to
beat. Wires protrude from the shell. It's meant to be a booby
trap, to be placed on a street and elicit as much damage as
You seen a body bomb before?
James shakes his head no.
Sanborn moves closer to the body and inspects the wiring in
Don't touch it. Let's blow it.
Positioning three blocks of C4 on the body, then plugs
blasting caps into the explosives. James nods to Sanborn and
Eldridge, and they leave him alone with the body.
James walks backwards out of the room, unspooling a roll of
detonation cord as he goes. But before he gets to the door...
Blaster, we've got a hold. I'm not
getting airspace clearance.
Copy that, How long?
Roger. Could be anything. At least
15 minutes is what they're saying.
Can you -- you need to explain to
them that we don't have 15 minutes.
Roger. I'll see if we can push this
James squats down, rests his rifle, looks at the floor.
Moments pass and he feels a set of eyes on him.
He swivels his head to the left and makes eye contact with
the dead kid on the table. The face doesn't have any of the
markers of death; it looks alive.
James turns away, then is compelled to make eye contact
again. He looks at his watch. The seconds tick by all too
slowly. He grabs his walkie-talkie.
Fifteen is not going to work. I
need to do this now.
Roger, I understand. If it was me,
I would go for it, but I don't
think command is going to budge
under the circumstances.
Tell command I'm in a fucking war
zone. And I'm going to blow now.
James gets up, clips his rifle, and takes the last few steps
out of the room.
Blaster One, I don't know who you
know, but you got your permission.
Ready to det any time you say so.
At the door he stops to look at the dead boy on the table. He
looks and looks. Finally:
Cancel that det.
Reaching over the body of the boy. He pulls the artillery
shell out of the boy's abdomen with his bare hands. He wipes
his hands on his pants.
This is Blaster One, I'm coming
INT BOMBED OUT BUILDING
James carries the body down the staircase. The head and feet
bump the sides of the staircase as he descends.
EXT BOMBED OUT BUILDING MOMENTS LATER
The BODY lies on the street, James standing over it. A blue
and white pickup TRUCK emblazoned with the logo of the Iraqi
National Police pulls up to their position.
A pair of POLICEMEN get out and after a few words with James,
they load the body.
Sanborn and Eldridge sit across from each other, watching
...So you really don't think it was
the DVD kid?
No, I don't.
Yeah. Could it be? One in a million
I don't know. Will seemed positive.
But that was weird.
They look out the window and notice Lt. Colonel Cambridge
down the street surrounded by a crowd of IRAQI MEN.
Cambridge is trying to talk to several of them at once.
This is not a safe area for you.
They don't leave. Cambridge lifts his rifle, not quite
shouldering it. Then one MAN, mid thirties, in a suit, steps
Why do you talk to us like
children. We are not children.
Gimme a break, will you?
Why should I?
Cambridge, suddenly not so sure of himself, looks back to the
Humvee and sees --
Watching the police truck drive away. He then moves for the
Humvee, motioning for Cambridge to load up.
Eldridge guzzles some water. Wipes sweat from his brow.
But then Will's pretty weird. He
keeps bomb parts under his bed.
Passing the water to Sanborn.
I bet you he doesn't put this one
under his bed.
James cracks the door, jumps inside.
He sees Cambridge walk past the brick pile that the OLD IRAQI
MAN had created. The man is no longer there. Something
crosses his mind when--
--The brick pile explodes in a A SICKENING BLAST,
obliterating Cambridge and flipping the Humvee
--James, Sanborn and Eldridge SPIN upside down as the Humvee
is buffeted by the blast - landing upside down.
--Suddenly CAMBRIDGE'S helmeted HEAD crashes into the
--Billowing smoke, dirt and debris smears the windshield
blotting out the sun.
--Inside, a flurry of HANDS yank on the heavy armored Humvee
door. It doesn't budge.
A SOLDIER runs to the rescue. He reaches for the Humvee door,
the metal sears his hand, and he pulls back in pain.
The soldier uses his rifle butt to jam the door open - but
that doesn't work, because the butt doesn't catch the handle.
From inside, the POUNDING and YELLS grow louder.
The soldier drops the rifle and grabs the searing metal with
his hand, burning his flesh as he pries the handle.
The Humvee door finally gives. Three men tumble out onto
INT BOMBED OUT BUILDING LATER
James is standing in the doorway into the building, dividing
his attention between the outside and the interior -- where
Sanborn and Eldridge are slumped against a wall.
Sanborn stares at a blank wall. Eldridge is running his hand
over a cigarette lighter -- seeing how much of the flame he
can bear. He looks as if he's hoping the physical pain will
help put the psychic pain in perspective.
James, standing in the light of the doorway, is smoldering
with rage and ungovernable purpose. He's smoking.
We stay here for a moment to watch as each man makes his own
deal with himself.
Through the open doorway a Humvee comes into view.
James stomps out his cigarette.
Our ride is here.
Sanborn and Eldridge remain in a trance.
He walks out into the glare. Sanborn and Eldridge rise to
EXT CAMP VICTORY DUSK
Funnel of wind erases a tank tread in the sand.
More sand drifts and piles like snow up against a small
mountain of sand bags.
Sand disappears the windshield of a parked Abrams as day
moves into night.
EXT CAMP VICTORY MESS TENT MORNING
James is stalking towards an OLDER IRAQI MAN who is selling
DVDs at Pele's usual table.
Hey - you haven't seen that kid
around here by any chance - who
The man shakes his head.
Sorry. No English.
No English? Don't lie to me.
Where's that kid?
Sorry, my man. Movie? Five dollars.
James shakes his head and walks away, heading towards a clump
of SOLDIERS standing in the shade of a tree.
Are you guys responsible for this
That motherfucker over there
(pointing to the Man) could be an
insurgent, watching the camp and
giving intel to his buddies so they
know where to launch their mortars.
I think he's just a guy selling
He's a security risk. You should
get rid of him.
The merchants are cleared. I
couldn't do anything to him without
the say-so from my CO.
James realizes that he has no hope of prevailing. Agitated,
he turns away, and we stay with him as he trudges down one of
Victory's dusty roads.
EXT. CAMP VICTORY MESS TENT DUSK
It's the end of the day and the DVD seller packs up his wares
James, in sunglasses, sweatshirt covering his army fatigues,
follows him to his car. James draws near, and points his
pistol at the guy's crotch.
Does this change anything?
The DVD man looks stunned.
INT DVD MAN'S CAR CAMP VICTORY GATE DUSK
James leans across the DVD man and flashes his ID to one of
The guard looks to his buddy who mouths "CIA"
Are you cleared to leave the camp
through this gate, Sir?
I'm going to need to see your ID
Don't fuck with me man, I'm having
a bad day already.
The guard stares at James. James stares at the guard. The
guard shrugs, waves James through.
EXT BAGHDAD STREET NIGHT
The truck goes down a series of streets. It comes into a poor
neighborhood and stops at a house.
James gets out.
EXT BAGHDAD STREET HOUSE
The dwelling is set back behind a low wall. Hard to see much
of it in the dim light.
James takes a step forward, toward the wall.
the DVD truck peels out.
James looks at its retreating tail lights. A moment of
indecision as he considers his situation: alone in Baghdad.
Then he vaults the low wall, landing in
EXT BAGHDAD COURTYARD
A modest courtyard. Light comes from one window in the house,
the rest is dark. Crickets.
James walks around to the back of the house. There's a door.
He tries the knob. It opens.
INT IRAQI HOUSE HALLWAY
In a dark hallway. Murmuring of a television. James moves
towards the noise.
INT IRAQI HOUSE ANTECHAMBER
James comes to an antechamber. Behind it is a very low stone
archway. He goes through the archway, where -
INT IRAQI HOUSE LIVING ROOM
A MAN -- call him Kalim -- older, fifties, dressed in
traditional garb, sits at a table drinking tea, watching an
Egyptian game show on television.
James walks in, gun drawn.
The man is spooked. He spills his tea, looks wildly for an
James puts his fingers to his lips.
Do you speak English?
English, French, Arabic.
I want the people responsible for
Pele. The body bomb.
Pele? I don't know. But please sit
down. I am professor Kalim, this is
my home. You are a guest. Sit.
Take me to the people responsible.
Of course, whatever you seek, I
will help you find. Please, please
sit, down. You are CIA, no? I am
very pleased to have CIA in my
James raises his gun to aim at the man's face.
Maybe you don't understand?
The man is suddenly very afraid.
Please, be careful. Be slow. A gun
can go off.
As the back door opens
-- James spins to see
-- a WOMAN, older, matronly. She sees James, his gun. And she
starts shouting at James in Arabic, then English, "Get out,
James swings his gun to her.
-- behind the woman comes Pele. He runs to his father's side.
-- James turns to the boy, to say something --
-- his mother is rushing James now, swinging a candlestick
-- he spins to the door, trying to get out of there --
-- SMASHING his head on the stone archway on his way out.
EXT. IRAQI HOUSE
-- the street.
James is shaken. He looks around, down the street. It's
murky. Dangerous. Even the shadows have shadows.
He runs...and runs...and we stay on his eyes. Blood runs from
the wound on his head.
SOUND of far off EXPLOSION. The sky turns orange briefly,
then fades into blackness.
EXT CAMP VICTORY GATE NIGHT
A blast of bright white light floods James. He's stunned -
and raises his ID in his open palm over his head. A scrap of
blood stained fabric is wrapped around his head wound.
Multiple rifles suddenly trained on his upturned face. VOICES
On your knees, on your knees!!
A big offish GUARD walks up and slams a rifle butt into the
side of James' head.
He falls to the ground.
What're you doing?
The guard sees the military ID splayed on the ground.
Whorehouse two clicks from here.
If I let you in, will you tell me
where it is exactly?
EXT CAMP VICTORY NIGHT
James walking along a dark camp road. He walks up to the head
shed porch, and goes inside. His walkie, sitting on a desk,
comes to life.
I repeat, do you copy? Do you copy?
Yeah, I'm right here. What's up?
(sarcastically) Just wondering if
you might want to join us in the
Humvee for a little outing the Army
wants us to go on.
Copy that. What's you're twenty.
We're at the south gate, James.
We've been waiting for you for half
an hour. Where have you been? Over.
INT HUMVEE MINUTES LATER
James jumps in. Sanborn and Eldridge shoot him impatient
Sanborn hits the gas.
A tanker blew up near the Green
Zone about an hour ago. We're doing
a post-blast on it. To figure out
how the suicide bomber pulled it
off. So where did you say you were
I didn't. Sergeant. Let's go.
What happened to your head.
Watch the road, Owen.
Sanborn looks at him, shakes his head. James stares out the
EXT BAGHDAD STREET LATE NIGHT
A pair of Humvee headlights, glowing orange in smoke filled
air, come rapidly toward us. They stop, the Humvee groans on
James' team gets out.
They walk down the street, guns low, combat flashlights on.
Sanborn, get the big spotlights.
Sanborn doubles back to the truck, roots around in the back,
comes running back with two giant flash-lights. James hits
the switch. Sanborn hits the switch.
A pool of intensely bright light opens in front of them,
revealing a rubble strewn street. Concrete. Bits of glass.
Metal. Everything that goes into a city -- pulverized.
We hear CRUNCHING sounds as the men walk down the street and
their feet fall on the blast remnants. The crunching gets
louder as they walk towards a GLOWING RED INFERNO at the end
of the block.
A Soldier's head, then his shoulders visible in the distance.
Friendlies, coming `in.
You guys the Medics?
No, we're EOD.
They walk past, deeper into the gloom.
Two soldiers run past them, carrying a stretcher.
They stop to see what he's looking at. Twisted metal.
That's an engine block. A big one,
too. From a truck probably.
It's what I'm thinking.
The men keep walking, and now the SOUNDS from the Inferno are
Another man rushes towards them, his face shrouded in
Sanborn points his rifle at the man's head. Hits him with the
Hi-Beam of his light. The man is wearing a black wool ski
Stop! Wagef! Wagef!
SKI MASKED MAN
No. I am working here.
Sanborn looks at him. Doesn't reply.
James puts his gun up on the guy. Now Eldridge does too. This
guy is about to be toast.
A face appears next to him.
He's with me.
Guns cover the face...
Then they see that above the face is a helmet...
And on the top of the helmet is a COLONEL'S INSIGNIA.
Sorry, Sir. I didn't recognize you.
Guns are lowered, fast.
Now that the Colonel is fully visible in the light we can see
that he's shaken by the scene of destruction around him.
We haven't found a body so it could
be a suicide bomber or some clever
bastard that caused all this -- and
slipped away to sip tea with his
mommie -- we just don't know.
As the Colonel struggles to define the horror he's just seen,
James jumps in to save him:
We'll take a close look, Sir.
This kind of situation we may never
know what happened. This is a mass
casualty situation - terrible
Roger that, Sir. We'll do our best.
A stretcher comes by.
They're cowards, you know. I wish
they would stand up and fight us,
man to man, instead of playing hide
and seek with me.
Roger, Sir. We better get moving.
Right, go ahead Sergeant.
The Colonel nods and moves off. His translator stands for a
moment. Takes off his ski mask to reveal an intelligent face
with deep set eyes and a dirty smear of five o'clock shadow.
SKI MASKED MAN
I'm Ahmed. My name is Ahmed. Thank
you for not shooting me.
The men move on...
Advancing toward the plume of smoke and embers rising into
the sky...smell of burning rubber and charred metal...
...until they see it --
--the twisted steel carcasses of two small vehicles and a
The image is biblical - the wounded and dead piled together
in one Hieronymus Bosch maze of tangled limbs, body parts...
Palm trees burning at the top...like Olympic torches.
SOLDIERS secure the area. GRIEVING FAMILIES swarm around the
dead and dying --
James, Sanborn and Eldridge approach. Wind fans nearby
flames into a fountain of embers that float up into the black
James moves through charred metal, stumbling over something
-- then something hits his leg... What? Flashlight, gun --
DOWN! -- it's a CHICKEN, charred -- feathers burned off but
still walking around - disoriented, dying...
James stumbles sideways to avoid the charred hens...
SOUNDS distant and near of wailing, MEDICS racing onto the
A WOMAN wearing Bhurka appears out of the distant flames and
haze -- looking disoriented, in apparent state of shock --
A BODY lies trapped beneath a pile of rubble. Sanborn reaches
down to remove one of the chunks of stone. It slides away,
but another falls in its place.
Shines his light on a concrete wall, stained with what looks
like threads of black lace. He draws closer. What is it?
Sanborn leans in.
Approaches the woman in the Bhurka --
Hey! Hey -- you alright? -- Keef
She turns to face him...madness in her eyes.
James' flashlight illuminates a massive crater, black...and
Eldridge swirls around.
Hey, I'm right here.
James is shining his light into a orange tree. There's a
PERFECTLY formed ORANGE, unharmed, nestled among the burnt
This is where the blast stopped.
(beat) Look over there.
James is pointing to a building in the distance. It's past a
row of houses and a field.
Sanborn comes into view. James nods to him and points again.
Perfect vantage point for a remote
det -- and I bet he's out there
right now watching us make fools of
ourselves. We could get him.
You want to go out there?
James keeps looking into the distance.
Yeah, let's go hunting.
I could stand to get in some
Sanborn stares at James and the bandage on his head.
Man, this is bullshit. You got --
what?-- three infantry platoons
here. That's their job.
You don't say No to me, Sergeant. I
say No to you -- and I'm not going
to let this bomber slink off while
the grunts get their act together.
(on the move)
Let's go. Now.
James glowers at Sanborn and Eldridge and stomps off, down
the alley toward an empty field.
Eldridge shoots Sanborn a sympathetic glance, and follows
James. Sanborn watches them recede into the darkness.
Sanborn runs after them.
They move three abreast across a dark field, guns raised
commando-style. Poised to strike.
They walk in silence, alert to every decibel.
Gravel underfoot. Enveloping night.
They come to a high wall, behind which the ground raises to a
gentle hill that looks out onto the tanker.
Sanborn gives James a leg up over the wall. James helps
They lean over to pull Eldridge up but with the forty pounds
of gear he's got on he's too heavy.
You got to work on your pull ups.
James and Sanborn drop over the other side, and we follow
them as they crouch low and approach a building construction
Eldridge pushes his back against the wall and scans the area.
It dawns on him that he's alone.
Sanborn and James come to the edge of the site and find what
may or may not be the remains of the trigger man's camp.
There's a florescent lantern still glowing and cigarette
butts in a pile.
That little bastard. Let's torch
this spot so he can't use it again.
James pats his pockets down, looking for something.
Do you have an incendiary?
Three quick SHOTS ring out -- they sound very close.
Sanborn and James instinctively fall to one knee. They scan
the area -- nothing.
As one man, they rise and start running back to the wall.
There's no answer.
They both drop to the ground on the other side.
They scan the ground with their flashlights.
The BODY of an Iraqi insurgent is lying close to where
Eldridge had been standing. He's pulped from bullet wounds,
and gasping for breath.
This guy comes out of the dark -
He scavenges the ground looking for brass casings.
Three shots, close range. He takes
a step forward to see what he's
Another guy comes from behind him --
gets the drop on him. You're a
They look up and down the wall.
That way is towards the tanker,
They run about fifty yards when Sanborn TRIPS, stumbles,
James catches him as he falls, and they keep going.
In the distance, they see Eldridge's back and the backs of
two other MEN, just as they are turning a corner.
They SPRINT to the corner, and pause to catch their breath as
James hands Sanborn his flashlight.
Hit `em with both lights on three.
Sanborn shoulders his rifle and readies both spotlights.
They spin around the corner - flash of light revealing
NOTHING but an empty street.
They sprint to the next block, where Eldridge is being walked
quickly at gun point.
The men's rifles are at his head.
Again. One two three. Do it. Do it.
Sanborn shines the lights on the backs of both men.
James fires. Three shots at the guy on the left of Eldridge.
Three shots at the guy on the right.
Sanborn kills the flashlights.
James goes running towards the group, Sanborn running next to
him. Both have their guns up but lights off.
They get to the group and all three men are on the ground.
Both Iraqis are dead -- shot clean in the back.
Eldridge is bleeding profusely from his leg, but he's alive.
James and Sanborn pick Eldridge up and drudge back with him.
Am I dead?
No. You're fine.
Am I dead? Am I dead? Am I dead?
Off James' face --
INT CAMP VICTORY SHOWER STALLS LATER THAT NIGHT
James walks in. The room is empty. Florescent lights hum.
James is still wearing his fatigues. His whole midsection is
red with Eldridge's blood.
James heads to the shower and steps inside, fully clothed. He
turns on the water.
Aims the shower head to his stomach. Sinks down so it can hit
the bloody stains.
As the uniform grows wet, then gets soaked, the pinkish water
swirls down the drain --
EXT CAMP VICTORY FIRST SERGEANT'S TRAILER
James and Sanborn emerge into the wind.
So how you doing with this?
Fine. I'm fine.
Fine? You know I lied to our
So Eldridge wouldn't have to go
around saying he was shot by his
own team leader.
Yeah. Thanks. I'm just tired.
You want some sleeping pills?
Nah, I'm good.
EXT CAMP VICTORY HEAD SHED MORNING
James walks purposely out of the head shed toward a waiting
Humvee. He passes Pele who looks up and shouts:
Hey, Boomala, Boomala!
James keeps walking. Eyes straight ahead.
Running up to James, holding DVD's, walks next to him.
Look at these, best quality. No
James just keeps walking. He gets in the car, Sanborn in the
Pele watches him go. Hurt.
EXT CAMP VICTORY TARMAC MORNING
Eldridge is on a stretcher, being loaded into a military
transport helicopter. Sanborn and James are there to say good-
As Eldridge is being loaded in, James touches his shoulder.
You'll probably be walking in a few
My tibia is shattered in nine
places I don't think I'm going to
be walking soon. The doc said six
months if I'm lucky.
Wow. Six ain't bad.
Not bad? It fucking sucks man.
Eldridge is jostled as he gets put down. And he cries out in
You see that motherfucker. That's
what happens when you shoot
You're sorry? Fuck you, Will.
(meaning it) Really fuck you.
Thanks for saving my life and all
but we didn't have to go hunting
for the trigger man. You invented
it, to get your adrenaline fix. You
war mongering fuck.
James is stunned.
(grabbing Eldridge's hand)
Take care of yourself, Owen.
A TRANSPORT SOLDIER looks at Sanborn and gives a hand signal
to wrap it up. Time to go. The door is closed on Eldridge.
James and Sanborn watch as the helicopter takes off. The
rotor wash chops the air.
Wind and sand buffet his face. He turns to say something to
But he's already walking away.
EXT BAGHDAD STREET LATE AFTERNOON
A new sand storm has begun.
And so it's in a cloud of dusty orange air that we find
James, encased in his bomb suit, taking the first steps of
his trek towards...
A WASHING MACHINE. Sitting in the middle of the street.
DAYS LEFT IN BRAVO COMPANY'S ROTATION: 5
Sanborn casts a nervous look around the poverty-stricken
neighborhood. It has taken on a forboding vibe in the
James approaches the washing machine.
(headset, impish grin)
I hear ticking.
He uses a long pole to open the door of the washing machine.
It's empty inside.
Getting closer, he sees the washing machine timer is at 30
minutes. James rests his head on the timer, listening.
He turns his attention to the back of the washing machine,
unscrewing the rear plate.
Inside, just a tangle of wires. He traces the wires with his
Then he turns back to the front of the machine. He twists the
timer with his hand, slowly, all the way back to zero.
It DINGS -- harmlessly.
Copy. What's up?
Send your skivvies down here on the
bot, I'll run a quick bleach cycle.
Somebody threw out a perfectly good
--When, suddenly, the SOUND of SOLDIERS SHOUTING in the
distance catches Sanborn's ear.
Hustle back, something's going on.
James comes back sweating profusely from his run. Sanborn
helps take his helmet off.
As two SOLDIERS come running over. More SHOUTING in the
distance, louder now. "Hands on your head." "Don't move
asshole." "Stop. Stop."
In addition, the sound of SHOUTING IN ARABIC. A loud jumble.
Over that, SOLDIERS YELLING: "Get back." "Form a perimeter."
A NERVOUS SOLDIER trots up to James and Sanborn.
What's going on?
We've got a situation with a
We'll follow you.
They follow the soldier down the road. The soldier is
EXT BAGHDAD ROAD
The road has been cordoned off by SOLDIERS on all sides.
In the middle of the road an IRAQI MAN IN A NEW BLACK SUIT is
standing with his hands above his head. He's distraught.
A SERGEANT seems to have taken command of the situation, and
now he alone is shouting to the man. "Stay still. Don't Move.
If you keep walking we will shoot you."
A TRANSLATOR in a black ski mask is helping him get the
The translator edges forward to talk to the BLACK SUIT man.
Keep that translator back.
One of the soldiers grabs the translator.
(to the soldier)
But the bomb was forced on him.
Against his will. He is not a bad
James and Sanborn and the NERVOUS SOLDIER come onto the
The Sergeant turns to James and explains.
He came walking up to our
checkpoint, said he had a bomb
strapped to him. He was sorry. He
didn't want it to blow up. He
begged us to take it off him.
Help this man. He's not a bad man.
Not a bad man? You've got to be
This is a trap. He wants to draw
people close to him.
Tell him to open his jacket. I need
to see the bomb.
The translator SHOUTS in Arabic and the MAN unbuttons his
jacket, revealing several sticks of dynamite strapped to his
(to the soldier)
With that much bang, I'd need a
hundred meter perimeter.
Tell him to get on his knees.
The translator SHOUTS. BLACK SUIT complies.
Can we just shoot him?
As James considers that option when --
NO. He's not a bad man. He has a
family. The bomb was forced on him.
He is asking for help. Only help.
I want you one hundred meters away,
like everybody else.
But how will I hear?
You don't need to. I'm going down
Meanwhile, the BLACK SUIT man is SHOUTING something in
What the fuck is he shouting now?
He's asking you to hurry. He thinks
the bomb has a timer on it.
James turns to Sanborn
Where's that helmet?
Sanborn pulls James aside.
We've had our differences.
Eldridge? That's water under the
bridge. It happened. But this --
this is suicide.
James smiles at Sanborn. He just doesn't get it.
That's why it's called a suicide
It's suicide for you, Will.
Nah. That guy wants to catch an
American? I'll give him an
Sanborn reluctantly hands him his helmet, and seals him in.
James grabs a nearby soldier's walkie then starts the walk
Soldiers moving back to their perimeter.
PEDESTRIANS gathering for a look. Soldiers scattering them
Smiles thinly as James nears.
James nods at him. The man nods, frightened.
James kneels down to get a closer look at the bomb strapped
to the man's belly.
He takes out his 9mm and puts it on the guy's forehead. Cocks
If I shoot you now, I can disarm
this bomb much more easily. Do you
BLACK SUIT stares at him blankly.
Sanborn, give your walkie to the
What the hell is this guy saying?
BLACK SUIT jabbers on in Arabic.
The translator keys his walkie.
He says, I don't wish to die. I
have a family. Please take this off
Holds his walkie up for the man to hear the translator.
Hands have to stay behind his head
or I will be very happy to shoot
Translator conveys this to BLACK SUIT in Arabic.
BLACK SUIT starts yelling in Arabic. Forehead wet with
He says, please hurry he has a
That's not what I asked you. Now
I'm going to shoot if he doesn't
understand that he can't move his
James holds the walkie up to the man's ear. Translator has
Yes. Yes. Yes!
Now James sinks to his knees and examines the bomb, all the
while keeping his pistol on the man's head.
There is a FOREST OF WIRES. He pushes them aside, revealing a
cheap Casio digital WATCH, which is counting down from five
Sanborn, I need to get this rig
off. There's too many wires here to
figure it out.
Copy that, what do you need?
James feels around the bomb. It's strapped to the BLACK SUIT
man with heavy gauge metal.
The man is shivering with fear.
Copy that. I'll get `em.
You've got two minutes to get them
and get down here.
Sanborn is already running towards the truck when he hears
Fuck. Copy that.
James presses his pistol harder into the man's forehead.
Sanborn runs to the truck. He roots around looking for the
bolt cutter. At last he finds it, and comes charging out with
The Casio watch is at 4:30.
Running hard with the bolt cutters.
--Past a crew of soldiers.
--Down the road, sprinting now. Rifle flapping.
Sanborn skids to a halt, hands James the cutters.
James hands his gun to Sanborn, who holds it on the man's
James sets to work, applying the cutters to the thick metal
holding the bomb to his chest.
The man is crying now.
Sanborn sees the Casio. It reads 4:00
Holy shit. You weren't kidding.
James works the cutter blade.
CU: Bolt Cutter. It SCRAPS futilely against the metal.
What is this made out of?
Case hardened steel.
James doubles his effort.
CU: Bolt Cutter. The blade bites the steel, but it doesn't
James squeezes with all his might.
Motherfucker. What's our time?
Sanborn looks at the Casio.
Shit. Ok. Let me think.
He puts the bolt cutter down on the ground.
We'd need an arc welder to get this
I don't think we have one of those
in the truck.
CU: Casio Watch 2:30.
Let's try the back of it.
Sanborn nods. Keeps the gun on the man's head. His hand is
starting to shake.
James goes behind the man, and rips open the back of his
shirt, revealing the back of the bomb. Here too it is a
welded band, but the metal looks thinner. Weaker.
James works it with the cutter.
CU: Casio Watch 1:30.
We have to bail.
Go. I got the suit.
Sanborn looks at the guy.
What do you want me to do with the
Take it with you, that's a good
When do you leave?
In forty five seconds.
Sanborn turns, and begins running uprange.
(shouting to soldiers)
Get back! Get back!
The soldiers turn and run.
James tries and tries to clip the metal. It's a no go. He
comes around to face the man.
The metal is too thick.
Help me. Help me!
James drops the bolt cutter, kneels down in front of the man,
and shakes his head. That's it.
The man understands James' gesture. He reaches forward,
grabbing James' suit.
James clubs his hand away.
CU: Casio Watch: 45 seconds.
James gets up and starts running-- lumbers, really, in the
suit -- as fast as he can towards a retreating Sanborn.
Sanborn hears James' boots thumping towards him and cranes
his neck to see
--James running, arms akimbo
--The Black Suit man stands up
-- He explodes and the blast spits out fire and dust.
--James is nailed with shrapnel and debris, knocked over.
--Sanborn is blown to the ground.
--through the helmet a hailstorm of particulate matter flying
at 22,000 feet per second straight at us --
--chunks of molten metal hitting his stomach, stopped by the
--bits of shrapnel and body parts thump into him
--dust and blood splatters the outside of his helmet
--CU his face: White. No movement. Total silence.
--blood seeps from his nose
--then, as if overcoming great resistance, his heart turns
over -- Daaaa--duuuunk
--sharp, loud inhale of breath. Like birth. The heart kicks
in again. Da-dunk. Da-dunk.
James struggles to stand.
He looks uprange.
Sanborn is staggering towards the soldiers.
EXT HUMVEE DUSK
The Humvee snakes along the desert floor.
Shadows against a dimming sky.
Sanborn is in the passenger seat, shivering, and covered in
grime and dust. James, in the driver's seat.
James looks over at Sanborn.
No. I hate this place
Sanborn stares out the window at the unforgiving landscape.
James passes Sanborn some Gatorade.
Have a hit.
Sanborn drinks, grateful, and puts the Gatorade down. Then he
looks at James.
I'm not ready to die, man.
Bro, you're not going to die out
Sanborn shakes his head. Unconsciously, his fingers touch his
neck, finding the exposed area above the collar of his body
Another inch or two difference.
Shrapnel goes zing (still touching
his neck). Severs my throat. I
bleed out in the sand.
Fuck. If I die now, nobody will
even really care. My folks, sure.
But that don't count. Who else?
I don't even have a son.
You got time.
No... I'm done. I want a son, Will.
I want a son.
They drive on in silence. Then Sanborn looks at James, as if
seeing him for the first time.
Why do you do it? Take the risks?
Hell, I don't know.
But you know what I'm talking
about, right? Every time we go out,
you throw the dice. Live or die,
you just throw `em down. You
recognize that, right?
Yeah. (softly) I do. But I don't
know why. Do you know why I am the
way I am?
No, Will, I don't.
Silence. Then after a while:
This traffic is pissing me off.
Where are we, anyway?
I know where I am but I'm lost.
They drive on. Dust off the desert floor blows into the
TIME CUT TO:
INT KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE SUPERMARKET DAY
A big one. Vast, hyper-hygenic, the aisles stretching on,
loaded with glistening produce. Muzac. A cathedral to
We find James walking through the supermarket, looking like a
new man. His hair has grown, softening his features. He's
scrubbed clean, dust free, and dressed in Bermuda shorts and
a clashing Polo shirt. The All American Dad. A suburban
softie. Pushing a shopping cart.
Welcome home, son, for you are no longer in Baghdad. You're
in the "big PX" -- America.
A beautiful young WOMAN approaches him from the other end of
the aisle. She too, is pushing a shopping cart, and in it is
a small BOY. She smiles at James, and says:
Honey, you grab the barbecue sauce
and I'll meet you in aisle four.
And CONNIE JAMES smiles again, and pats her husband on the
Now James knows he's really home.
Pushes the cart over to the sauce section. Down the squeaky-
His progress is impeded by an OBESE WOMAN who is mulling over
cat litter. Her overflowing cart blocks the aisle.
James stops. Hands tight on the shopping cart. He looks at
her hard. She ignores him. Where's the 9mm when you need it?
James clears his throat. She sees him. Moves her cart.
He continues on, walking through the cavernous space.
At last, he's at the sauce section. He is rattled by the
abundance after the bleakness of Iraq, and the array of
choices is dizzying.
--He reaches for a bottle, then pulls back, unsure.
--Giving up, he picks a bottle at random and tosses it into
INT KNOXVILLE JAMES HOUSE KITCHEN MORNING SOME DAYS LATER
James is washing the vegetables they've just bought at the
grocery store. Mushrooms bob in a pool of water at the bottom
of the sink. James tries to clean them individually, but
can't. They crumble in his hands.
Let's put the chicken on first and
the vegetables on last, so they
James struggles with the mushrooms. Makes no reply.
Yeah, okay. (beat) You know,
they're really short on bomb techs
Connie knows where this is going, but she fights the
Well, good thing the army is
hiring, and they've got so many
great guys over there.
James wipes his hands on the dish towel and walks out.
Looking at his retreating back, she accidentally knocks a
glass off the counter, and it shatters.
EXT JAMES HOUSE LATER THAT DAY
A few NEIGHBORS have gathered for a barbecue in James'
backyard. It's a simple, low-key affair. James is tending
meat on a grill.
INT JAMES HOUSE CONTINUOUS
The doorbell rings. Connie rushes to open it. It's Sanborn.
She hugs him.
Thanks for coming. Maybe he'll
listen to you.
I know how to talk to him.
EXT JAMES HOUSE A LITTLE LATER
Behind the barbecue, Sanborn finds a moment to confront James
What the fuck is the matter with
you? You got a family, kid, nice
James studies the grilling meat.
I know, it's crazy. So how's life
at home treating you?
Sanborn holds up his hand. He's wearing a wedding ring.
I made the plunge. (big smile) But
I thought we were talking about
We just did, buddy.
INT JAMES' SON'S BEDROOM LATER THAT NIGHT
The boy is in a cradle, face up and wide awake. James comes
in to tuck him in.
James pulls a book of fairy tales off the shelf, flips
through it. Can't read that fluff.
He pulls up a chair. Begins to play with a Jack-In-the-Box.
He winds it up.
He opens it for his son. The Jack POPs out.
His son squeals with delight, then his eyes go wide with
fear. He's not sure what to make of the bobbing clown.
(trying to settle him
Well, let's see. I bet you don't
know the story of these magic
James looks at the box. He stuffs the Jack back in and closes
The boy looks up at him with a son's pure admiration. Rapt.
Once upon a time, in a distant
kingdom, there were many magic
He stops to think.
Every person had a magic box. But
you couldn't tell they were magic
boxes on the outside. Like this
He brings the box close to the child's eyes. The boy is
dazzled by the colors. He reaches out to touch it.
It just looks like a plain old box.
Then a new king came along and told
all the people, you have to give me
all your magic boxes. But the
people, instead of giving away
their boxes decided to hide them.
And they put their boxes in secret
places all over the kingdom. They
put them in the roads. They put
them in cars. They put them in
buildings. And the King said, (does
a King's gravelly baritone) "Well,
how am I going to get my magic
boxes now?" And one of the King's
men said, "We have a special Knight
with special armor, and he can find
the boxes. And only he.
He tries to collect his thoughts.
And this Knight gathered up all the
boxes, far and wide. And sometimes -
- when he wasn't sure if it was a
magic box -- he opened them.
James slowly opens the box, holding the clown in with his
hand so it doesn't pop. Releasing it slowly.
The boy giggles and reaches up.
And the King said to the Knight,
you have done a wonderful job. I
will grant you one wish. What do
James thinks, struggles to find an ending.
But the Knight didn't know what to
James realizes he can't finish the story.
You see, the thing is, son. One day
you'll understand that when you
start out like you are now, you
love everything. You love your
Mommy and your Daddy. You love your
bobba. You love your blanket.
You even love your little crib, and
these dumb toys. But as you get
older some of the things you love
don't seem special anymore. That
bobba is one day just going to look
like an ordinary plastic bottle to
you. And the older you get, the
more this happens and the fewer
things you love. And by the time
you get to be my age, sometimes you
only love one -- or two -- things.
With me, I think's it's one.
EXT KNOXVILLE BUS STOP DAWN
James waits for the bus. Wearing his camo. He's alone. His
hair is shaved again.
The far off city BUS grinds its gears. James turns toward
the sound when a Chevy PICKUP pulls ahead of the bus, and
zooms to a stop in front of him.
Sanborn opens the passenger window.
EXT BUS STOP
You lost again, Sergeant?
Get in, before I change my mind.
They drive away.
Couldn't risk letting you on a
public bus. Probably shoot the damn
driver if it wasn't moving fast
A stewardess passing out glasses of water and packages of
peanuts approaches James' aisle.
Here you are, Sir (noticing James'
uniform) Thank you for your
Your welcome, m'am.
The stewardess smiles lovingly, and waits for an opening to
continue the conversation. When none comes, she moves on.
James turns to the window. In his hand he holds a photo of
Tears well up.
The plane's ENGINE WHINE swells and merges with--
EXT BAGHDAD DAY
Angry drivers SHOUT in Arabic - car HORNS blare - loudspeaker
CALL to prayer - Humvee RUMBLE - incoming CHOPPER WASH - RAT-
TAT-TAT of distant gunfire --
As James' feet hit the tarmac.
A SOLDIER is waiting for him, with a smile on his face.
Welcome to Delta-Company.
A Middle-Eastern sun bathes James' upturned face lengthening
into a smile.
His pace slows...the tarmac transitions to dirt as little
puffs of dust lift off his continuous passage. He is now in
the bomb suit and we are --
EXT. BAGHDAD OUTSKIRTS DAY
-- in the desert.
The small CLUSTER of SOLDIERS at the side of the road parts
to make way for James.
Hands pat his back as he begins the long walk down the street
-- toward the bomb.
All SOUND telescopes down to just James' BREATHING...
--the view through James' eyes: the outside world of soldiers
and Baghdad seems to pulsate with excitement --
-- James' face. As the SOUNDS of his breathing grow louder
-- The noon day sun beats brilliantly onto a car's
windshield, the glass shimmering.
DAYS LEFT IN DELTA COMPANY'S ROTATION: 365
-- James moves into the path of that reflected sunlight.
-- And vanishes into the glare.