Nothing attracts patriotism more on July 4 than a war drama on American heroes. Films like “The Outpost” by Rod Lurie, which tells the story of the battle of Kamdesh, October 3, 2009, where eight American soldiers were killed when insurgents stormed an isolated base in the north of ‘Afghanistan. It has been one of the deadliest battles for our troops since the start of the American occupation in 2001.
The highlight is a noble and brutal 35-minute fight sequence. Lurie and her director of photography Lorenzo Senatore are pulling the wool over this climatic shooting. The action is in front of you, grabbing you by the chin strap and placing you directly in the fray. It is so visceral that you may be looking for your own rifle. The camera follows the soldiers as they dodge bullets, protect their wounded, struggle to find cover while crying for more ammunition. Like the US involvement in Afghanistan, the streak seems to go on forever. Lurie is able to simulate the carnage – and camaraderie – of the battle. His message is quite clear: war is hell, but it is full of heroes.
Former film critic and director, Lurie (“Straw Dogs”) graduated from West Point and his military background gives street credit to a film from the book by CNN presenter Jake Tapper, “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor. “The screenplay, co-written by Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (” The Fighter “), also tells the stories of the men – some who lived and others who died – of Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV. one of the most decorated units (27 Purple Hearts, 3 Bronze Stars, 2 Medal of Honors) from the 19 years conflict, to play them, Lurie aligns an exceptional cast composed of Scott Eastwood, Orlando Bloom, Caleb Landry Jones, Taylor John Smith and Jack Kesy.
An air of foreboding surrounds the opening scene, when a group of reinforcements arrives at the camp, a place where no one wants to be affected because they are sitting ducks. The small base, which houses about 53 soldiers, sits in a breathtaking valley surrounded by mountains full of Taliban firing assault rifles and RPGs at will. “Welcome to the dark side of the moon,” said a soldier.
Most of the film takes place at the outpost, a setting that does not resemble a haunted house where the occupants are chosen one by one. The same goes for Camp Custer, the nickname derived from the high death rate. The situation is dangerous, but there is a lot of humor in the gallows. Think of the boys’ clichés about women and girlfriends. This kind of predictability is overshadowed by the courage and pride shown, especially in the sergeant chief’s “not on my watch” representation of Eastwood. Clint Romesha, whose sense of duty inspires others to seize the opportunity. Bloom (“The Lord of the Rings”) also made an impression as a beloved lieutenant Benjamin Keating. But Jones (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) as an army specialist Ty Carter steals every scene. He’s a tough, credible dissatisfied guy who’s the guy you want on your side in a gunfight.
Some of the most moving footage occurs when soldiers call home to speak to loved ones, providing an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of soldiers balancing homesickness and the accomplishment of their mission. We learn a bit about a lot of soldiers, and that can be overwhelming at times. There are a myriad of characters to follow, which becomes confusing, especially when the action is triggered and it is difficult to decipher who is who.
Despite this, Lurie is resolute in his description of the bravery of men who love their country and their comrades so much that they will follow their leaders in all situations. Even those of us who have never dodged enemy fire or launched a grenade have the feeling that he did it right.
Dana Barbuto can be reached at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
Performers: Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom.
(R for war violence and macabre images, omnipresent language and sexual references.)
Grade B +
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