With a commendable sensitivity to both the inanities and the unrelenting raw horror of combat, The Outpost seems likely to become an instant classic of the war-film genre. Source: CNS.
Based on the 2012 book by CNN correspondent Jake Tapper, it’s an account of the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan on October 3, 2009, when 300 Taliban fighters overran the remote Combat Outpost Keating, at which 53 Americans were based. Eight were killed and another 27 wounded, while half the Taliban died.
The fighting brought Medals of Honour for Staff Sgt Clint Romesha (Scott Eastwood) and Specialist Sgt Ty Carter (Caleb Landry Jones), members of the 61st Cavalry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division.
Director Rod Lurie, working from a screenplay adapted by Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, is particularly adept at depicting tiny, telling non-sequitur conversations, such as Carter’s explanation to an unseen interlocutor: “Jesus was a pacifist, sergeant.”
Real life comes without plots and death arrives without warning, so Lurie – before the attack occurs – lingers on one soldier’s emotional turmoil after his comrade is blown off a footbridge. No one uses the term “unit cohesion,” but it’s exhibited throughout. Training, discipline and compassion keep everyone alive.
But the old cliches of war films persist. So Lurie allows audience-pleasing wisecracks. There’s also a brief scene in which the soldiers, long accustomed to improvising physical challenges, pass the time by waterboarding one another as an endurance test.
The plot doesn’t delve into the morality of war or the decisions that have placed American soldiers in peril in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years. Rather, the focus stays on the interdependence that has all looking after one another like brothers. It's an elegant form of inspiration that doesn't require speeches or flag-waving.
Review by Kurt Jensen, CNS.
The Outpost Starring: Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom, Jack Kesy, Cory Hardrict and Milo Gibson. Directed by Rod Lurie. Rated MA15+ (Strong violence and frequent coarse language). CNS advises the film contains combat violence with some gore, a discussion of suicide, occasional sexual banter, fleeting profanities and pervasive rough and crass language. 122 minutes. In cinemas now.
The Outpost (CNS via The Boston Pilot)