The Real 'Hurt Locker' Revealed

It's a heart-pounding feeling -- being inside a 100-pound protective suit, with your own life and the lives of everyone around you in your hands as you're disarming a bomb.

The life of a military bomb-disposal specialist -- at least as depicted in the critically acclaimed movie "The Hurt Locker" -- is pure adrenaline.

The film has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. But how accurate is it?

Marine Tim Colomer saw "The Hurt Locker" and said, "It took me back to Iraq almost immediately. ... It was tantamount to being there."

Colomer deactivated more than 150 bombs in Iraq as a Marine explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician in 2006 and 2007.

He says the movie's bomb-disposal scenes come as close as possible to portraying the incredible danger, tension and, yes, the fear that came with the job.

"Oh, absolutely," said Colomer, who was injured -- but remained in Iraq -- when his heavily armored vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in December 2006.

"Anybody who says that they're not scared in a position like that is self-inflated. They're just not telling you the truth," he said. "Yeah, every call we went on we were scared."

Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iran began, more than 50 U.S. bomb technicians have been killed, even though the majority of explosive devices are now deactivated by robots.

Journalist Mark Boal wrote the screenplay for "The Hurt Locker" based on his experience embedded with an ordnance disposal unit in Iraq in 2004 for a story in Rolling Stone magazine.

Kathryn Bigelow, who directed "The Hurt Locker" and is nominated for an Academy Award, said she found the story of troops who have "arguably the most dangerous job in the world" compelling.

"What kind of character does this? What you and I would run from they walk towards 10, 12, 15 times a day," she told ABC News earlier this year. "I thought it was a pretty interesting psychology to examine this in a movie."

Bomb Disposal Marine: 'Just Do What You've Been Trained to Do'

Army Staff Sgt. Gabriel Burkman, 28, of Columbus, Ind., has been wounded twice during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says you must block everything out when you face a bomb.

"When it comes time for an incident, it's all EOD. That's all I think about. That's all I need to think about and that's all I should think about to stay alive," he said.

"You just have to keep it calm and just do what you've been trained to do," Burkman said. "The only way I'm going to get to live the rest of my life is if I walk away from that IED [improvised explosive device] alive so it's really not that hard to focus on the job at all."

Some veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have dismissed the movie as riddled with inaccuracies. So have some veterans' groups.

They have singled out one of the most talked-about scenes in "The Hurt Locker" -- when the central character, Sgt. 1st Class William James, takes off his protective armor, saying, "If I'm going to die, I'm going to die comfortable." Jeremy Renner has been nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of James.

Colomer says the movie takes some "artistic license," but he calls the bomb scenes realistic -- and acknowledges that he never wore his bomb suit.

"You are so slowed down in that bomb suit, especially if you're getting shot at or there's indirect fire -- you can't afford to be that slow," he said.

Burkman, who declined to comment on what he thought of "The Hurt Locker," said wearing protective armor definitely is preferable, but "sometimes the bomb suit is not applicable, and some team leaders won't use it."

Colomer said he could relate to something else in the movie: the difficulty when you come home.

"I liked that scene in the grocery store," he said. "I related to that automatically -- where he is standing in the middle of the cereal [aisle], and his wife says go grab a box of cereal. ... He's been under intense life-and-death-situation decisions and now he's tasked with what you could really call a non-decision. It's kind of a helpless feeling."

But whatever the difficulties, both Burkman and Colomer said the job is worth it.

"We are not cowboys. We take calculated risks," Burkman said. "We have a job that's challenging but at the same time, once you've completed it, once you have taken care of an IED, there is not a better feeling in the world that you've saved lives."