A war epic told with accuracy and heart. And it's true.
Director: Rod Lurie (Straw Dogs)
Screenplay: Eric Johnson (The Fighter)
Cast: Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious), Milo Gibson
Runtime: 2h 3m
By: John DeSando
“Courage above all things is the first quality of a warrior.” Carl von Clausewitz
Great contemporary war films like Saving Private Ryan, Blackhawk Down, and Hacksaw Ridge immerse the audience in the horrendous chaos of warfare. So, too, does the current cinema verité The Outpost, based on the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh in a remote outpost in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush, Combat Outpost Keating.
The Outpost is adapted from CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s book, subtitled “An Untold Story of American Valor.” Not only does director Rod Lurie depict just how harrowing the two days were for the about 50 American troops besieged by 400 Taliban in a canyon from which escape seemed impossible, but Lurie also directs the likes of Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott, and Mel Gibson’s Milo but makes us quickly forget celebrity and focus on heroism.
That bravery is the centerpiece of this unnerving epic: After fretting about how the American soldiers will extricate themselves from a problematic assignment (four officers were disciplined for poor decision making that failed to secure the base), the film is mostly about individual heroics to save wounded comrades despite enormous odds against success. Eight Americans died, and for the first time, two medals of honor were awarded.
The Outpost is an example of how a film can capture the chaos of battle, as Mel Gibson did in Hacksaw Ridge, and yet focus on individual achievement in the name of humanity. For those who never fought in battle, this film allows them to admire the soldiers and condemn the war while reaping the benefits of combatants giving their lives for us.
I don’t feel good about anyone giving his life for me, but I do feel good about the great sacrifices our country has made to ensure our survival in the name of goodness and light.
“So how do we do our jobs and stay safe? We need to keep a good relationship with the locals. Respect keeps us safe.” Cpt Benjamin Keating (Orlando Bloom) No safety here, dicey relationships, and little respect were as formidable enemies as the faceless Taliban. Yet, heroism as no one could have thought possible was ever-present in reality and film.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com