THE OUTPOST (2020)
SYNOPSIS: Based on true events, in this military thriller, a small unit of U.S. soldiers, alone at the remote Combat Outpost Keating, located deep in the valley of three mountains in Afghanistan, battles to defend against an overwhelming force of Taliban fighters in a coordinated attack. The Battle of Kamdesh, as it was known, was the bloodiest American engagement of the Afghan War in 2009 and Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV became one of the most decorated units of the 19-year conflict.
The Outpost might be a little too late to join the “Afghanistan war movies” party but it certainly deserved a watch if you are a fan of contemporary war drama. And don’t worry, it’s definitely not a bad VOD release. Ideally, it should even be watch on the big screen if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on a 2012 book called “The Outpost: The Untold Story of American Valor” by American journalist Jake Tapper, the movie depicts a platoon of heroic U.S. soldiers who has to battle hundreds of Taliban in a trapped camp base. Combat Outpost Keating is located at the bottom of three mountains and is constantly being attacked by Taliban fighters despite the army’s best intent to engage the locals in community improvement projects.
Rather than viewing it as propaganda material, this in fact is a simple war drama that pays tribute to the brave men who either KIA or survived the brutal attack with consequences in case you are expecting an insightful, historical-based flick. Even though it’s based on a real event, The Outpost never strives to be a great sensationalised drama. It’s more of a celebration of how young American soldiers risked their lives to protect a cause they firmly believed in.
Similar to Black Hawk Down, The Outpost is yet another team-effort. There’s too little character development to speak of and too many characters walking in and out of every scene. Every marine looks exactly as the one before except their name tags. The picture however is largely told from the viewpoint of Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha (Scott Eastwood) though his character is often surrounded by brave men played by Orlando Bloom, Milo Gibson and Caleb Landry Jones as Specialist Carter (Banshee from X-Men: First Class) who played a bigger, prominent role once the battle starts.
The first hour is kind of a hit-and-miss. Director Rod Lurie (Straw Dogs) attempts to showcase the camaraderie of the brave men in the camp whose daily routines are constantly disrupted by unseen, surprise attacks and half-witted decisions from the top. And there’s the usual messages of missing their partners and families with crude and racism jokes thrown in. It’s not until the last hour or so where the brilliantly staged battle sequence starts to kick in. The fight against terrorism is handled wonderfully by both Lurie and cinematographer Lorenzo Senatore resulting in a visceral, exciting watching experience. The battle might be bloody, harrowing with shots and explosions coming all over but it’s not exactly gruesome if you have a weak tolerance for gratuitous violence.
The Outpost does more than a decent job recreating the Battle of Kamdesh, recounting the bravery and heroics of 53 U.S. soldiers who fought on the fateful day. It’s a solid effort from Lurie and team though it’s quite a pity to catch this on the small screen. Most of the faces might be unfamiliar to audiences but it boasts a cast that are sons and grandsons to famous actors and musician. The movie also ends with heartfelt tributes to the real-life servicemen. It’s a must-watch for fans of this genre.
Review by Linus Tee