Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom, Jack Kesy, Cory Hardrict, Milo Gibson, Jacob Scipio, Taylor John Smith, Jonathan Yunger
Written by: Eric Johnson, based on a book by Paul Tamasy, Jake Tapper
Directed by: Rod Lurie
MPAA Rating: R for war violence and grisly images, pervasive language, and sexual references
Running Time: 123
Date: 07/03/2020
IMDB

The Outpost (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Heavy Medals

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on true events, Rod Lurie's The Outpost is about US Army Combat Outpost Keating. Built in 2006 in an unfortunate location at the bottom of a valley in Nurestan Province in Afghanistan, the outpost was boxed in and easily vulnerable to attacks from above.

Tensions grow as small bands of Taliban open fire on the Americans almost every day, while negotiations to win the hearts and minds of the locals slowly break down, and the men go through a steady rotation of new first lieutenants.

Finally comes the bloody Battle of Kamdesh in 2009, when the Taliban attacked with its full force.

Director Lurie, who himself served in the Army before becoming a film critic, and then a filmmaker (The Contender, The Last Castle, etc.), saves this battle for the entire last half of the 123-minute movie, and it's an impressive piece of work.

Filmed in long, kinetic takes, these sequences show soldiers weaving through the outpost, ducking behind cover, and then continuing on, in an attempt to rescue pinned-down squads, or supply more ammo.

It's powerful stuff, marred mainly by the fact that it's frequently difficult to tell any of the many characters apart.

The notable exceptions are Scott Eastwood, who looks and sounds astonishingly like his father Clint during his Rawhide days, and the incredible character actor Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out), with his vaguely moist, serpentine looks. (Jones spends the movie running around in helmet, flak jacket, and shorts.)

Perhaps not coincidentally, these two play the two heroes of the piece, the Medal of Honor recipients Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha and Staff Sgt Ty Carter, respectively.

As for the rest, Lurie's roaming, jiggling camerawork isn't exactly designed for close-ups or examinations of the human soul.

But even minus this personal element, The Outpost is a gripping story, dynamically told, and well worth a look.

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