We dive right into the middle of a war zone in 2004 Baghdad, a year-ish after the Iraq War began. A team of soldiers from the explosive ordinance disposal (or EOD) team is trying to defuse a bomb. Unfortunately, the whole situation goes south, and the team's bomb tech and team leader, a guy named Thompson, ends up getting killed.
The team really liked this guy, so his replacement, Staff Sergeant Will James, has some big shoes to fill. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), Will isn't interested in taking Thompson's place. He has his own way of doing things that's, er, unique to him.
So, right away, Will has tension going with the rest of his team. They are used to having a lot of protocol and using caution during the whole bomb-defusing process. And hey, that seems reasonable, right? You'd think being careful just naturally goes with being the guy who defuses bombs. However, Will is more impulsive than his predecessor and far less interested in rules and procedure.
Will's casual and jokey style puts him at odds with his men pretty much from the start. Fellow EODers Sanborn and Eldridge worry that Will's recklessness is going to get them killed, and Sanborn gets so agitated about the whole situation that he ponders blowing up Will while they're out testing ammo and passing it off as an accident.
Pondering the murder of a fellow soldier? Yeah, that's some pretty serious freaking out.
Sanborn's murderous thoughts stay in fantasyland, though, and Will ends up proving himself pretty good at defusing bombs and keeping everyone around him alive.
Well, almost everyone.
It's a war zone, so expecting the unexpected is pretty much par for the course...and Will does lose some folks along the way. He also ends up injuring Eldridge during a risky escapade that he forces the others to join him on. It's not the worst-case scenario that Sanborn and Eldridge had envisioned (you know, all of them dying), but Eldridge is, shall we say, less than impressed when he ends up with a shattered leg.
At the end, though, Will, Sanborn, and Eldridge do get out of Iraq alive. So, happy ending, right?
Well, kind of. See, it turns out that Will doesn't really feel comfortable back in his "normal life," which is filled with trips to the supermarket and playtime with his little boy. He ends up opting to go back to Iraq to pick up where he left off.