"The Hurt Locker" represents a return to strong, exciting narrative. Here is a film about a bomb disposal expert that depends on character, dialogue and situation to develop almost unbearable suspense. It contains explosions, but only a few, and it is not about explosions, but about hoping that none will happen. That sense of hope is crucial. When we merely want to see stuff blowed up real good in a movie, that means the movie contains no one we give a damn about.
The first ten minutes of the film are online as well — linked from the article above — and if they don't make you contemplate buying a ticket, something is terribly wrong.
Something that came to mind as I was reading this: a parallel between the protagonist of Locker and Tezuka's Black Jack. Both seem to thrive on risk, albeit in different ways. Black Jack throws himself at one impossible case after another, convinced of his ability to find a cure or bring a patient back from the brink of death. Most of the time, he's right. Sometimes he's wrong, and when that happens it hits him like someone clubbed his kidneys with a cricket bat. The fun's over.