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The Outpost 2020

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  • The Outpost 2020

    Excellent current era war film set around the battle of Kamdesh (Afghanistan) at outpost Keating.

    From Wiki:

    The Outpost is a 2020 American war drama film directed by Rod Lurie, based on a 2012 non-fiction book, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor by Jake Tapper about the Battle of Kamdesh. It stars Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Milo Gibson, and Jack Kesy.

    The film was scheduled to premiere at the 2020 South by Southwest Film Festival, but the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was released via video on demand, as well as in select theaters, on July 3, 2020. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for the battle sequences and respectful depiction of the soldiers.

    The film tells the story of the 53 U.S. soldiers and two Latvian military advisors who battled a force of some 400 enemy insurgents in north-eastern Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Originally built to engage the locals in community development projects, Combat Outpost Keating — located at the bottom of three steep mountains just 14 miles from the Pakistani border — faced a constant threat of being attacked by the Taliban, putting the U.S. soldiers stationed there at significant risk. When the Taliban heard of US military officials intentions to close the outpost, they decided to make a statement.

    Very visceral in its portrayal of the frantic battle against overwhelming insurgent odds, the actors put in a gritty and realistic performance.

    Definitely two thumbs up.

  • #2
    Great! I'll watch for it.

    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?


    • #3
      Interesting, the film is based on a book written by CNNs Jake Tapper. lll be on the lookout for this one.
      Long live the Lionheart! Please watch this video
      Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

      George S Patton


      • #4
        REVIEW - The Outpost

        I used to look forward to the occasional war movie opening in theaters. The rareness of new war movies made those trips to the theater with my note pad special. I would have to find a seat with some light and sometimes sat in the aisle to use floor lights. I wonder if those days are over. I still have not seen “The Last Full Measure” and “Greyhound” has been pushed back. I may have to get a trial subscription to Apple+ just to see it. “The Outpost” actually is playing in theaters, but none near me. I do not know whether I would have gone to see it if it was nearby. Thankfully, I did not have to. One effect of the virus is some movies are going straight to streaming. In this case it costs $7, but that is about what it would cost in a theater and I got to sit comfortably on a non-sticky floor.

        “The Outpost” is based on Jake Tapper’s book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor. Tapper was not embedded like Sebastian Junger in “Restrepo”, but the soldier behavior is authentic due to Tapper doing extensive interviews with the participants. Rod Lurie (“The Last Castle”) was a good choice as director since he graduated from West Point and served in the Army. Some of the participants acted as technical advisers and a few even act in the film. It was filmed in Bulgaria where an accurate mock-up of the post was reconstructed. The movie got the stamp of approval from Gold Star families who attended a private screening.

        The movie leads with background that basically tells the military history neophytes that locating a base in a valley surrounded by mountains is not a good idea. Combat Outpost Kamdesh was called “Camp Custer”, but could better have been called “Camp Dien Bien Phu”. The movie sets the menacing scenario early on with the arrival of new targets by way of a nighttime helicopter ride. The naïve newbies are informed the choppers don’t dare ingress except on a moonless night. At daybreak, the camera pans over the surrounding mountains to give the audience a clear idea of the lunacy of locating an outpost there. Welcome to the Alamo. Sure enough, at the 6:30 mark, the first shots are fired by Taliban fighters hiding in the rocks on a slope. And meet the American army in Afghanistan because after the elimination of those insurgents, Staff Sgt. Gallegos (Jacob Scipio) physically abuses sad sack Pfc. Yunger (Alfie Stewart) for firing close to him. Another soldier has a hashish problem. However, before you get the impression that the movie is a hit piece on the American military, the movie settles into a realistic portrayal of the dynamics within a unit isolated in a post surrounded by the enemy. If you haven’t seen “Restrepo”, some might be shocked by how the soldiers talk to each other and interact. As Specialist Carter (Caleb Landry Jones) complains, it’s like living in a frat house. His inability to participate in the towel-snapping gets him ostracized. Those familiar with the modern American army in Iraq and Afghanistan (see “The Kill Team”) will notice that none of these men talk about getting their first kill. They have more of a Vietnam attitude of just surviving. Their mission matches their position – hopeless. Their commanding officer Capt. Keating (Orlando Bloom) tries to implement the strategy of wooing the locals away from the Taliban with infrastructure funds, but it’s a pipe dream and his men know it. One speaks for all: “We want their hearts and minds, they want our blood and guts.” The movie only swipes at the brass, but it is clear the REMFs are clueless and the ROEs are ridiculous. The cynical view of the counterinsurgency efforts is personified by Staff Sgt. Romesha (Scott Eastwood). He’s the kind of guy you’re going to need when the **** hits the fan. That won’t be long because the foreshadowing clearly indicates to fasten your seatbelts. You’ll need to keep your seatbelt on for 35 minutes of unrelenting combat as you wonder if there will be as many survivors as in the Alamo.

        I usually approach new war movies with some trepidation, especially if I have been waiting for them. They are so rare that it can be depressing when the promise does not match the product. Here is one that is worth the wait. It was intended to pay tribute to the soldiers at Camp Keating and it does so. The ensemble of mostly unknown actors is excellent and we get a star-making turn by Eastwood. Orlando Bloom was the box office get and his role reminds of Guy Pearce in “The Hurt Locker” (you’ll see what I mean.) The actors behave like soldiers. I do not know if there was a boot camp, but they seem comfortable with the language and the interaction. If you knew little about American soldiers, you’d mistake hate for love. This is why the Carter character is crucial. While a cliched redemption character, he represents the typical soldier who will give his life for a comrade, no matter their relationship. The best moment in the film comes at the end when a counselor asks him if Mace (the man who he risked his life to save) was his friend and he simply says “no”. There is some character development, especially Romesha, Yunger, and Carter, but there is a bit of “Black Hawk Down” in the “who was that?” deaths. (I’m pretty sure the one who shows a picture of his dog dies. Kudos for tweaking that cliché.) The enemy is totally faceless, aside for some Afghan elders who look 80, but probably were 40ish. The fighters are fodder, but there are enough of them and they have mortars and RPGs so the assault is very hairy.

        The movie is basically two parts (although technically it is divided between the various commanding officers). The first part touches on the hearts and minds strategy and throws in the occasional harassment of the outpost, but it is mainly focused on portraying the lives of the men. It is very effective at this. By the time you get to the second part, which is the battle, you do care about the men. The combat is not quite Korean, but certainly kick-ass. It is reminiscent of “Danger Close”, but more intimate as the hand-held cameras put us in the thick of it. Like being in a Humvee under fire. The deaths are unpredictable and random. Two of the commanders’ deaths are shocking and that’s before the final battle. The combat is intense and suspenseful. You’ll be amazed that these same men who were grabbing ass the night before are risking ass by running through fire to help each other. We may be sending frat boys overseas, but they step up like a Band of Brothers when the going gets tough.

        I have to admit I was not familiar with the Battle of Kamdesh. Like most Americans, I have not followed the Afghan War since its early years. But then, it hasn’t gotten a lot of press coverage since the tennis ball was thrown elsewhere. This movie was necessary to remind us that there were actual battles after the easy initial conquest of the country. The battle was a pyrrhic victory in a pyrrhic war. But that wasn’t the fault of the men of Bravo Troop 3-61 Cavalry. They did us proud and now their battle is the most famous in the war.

        GRADE = A

        HISTORICAL ACCURACY:I haven’t read the book yet, but my research indicates the movie is admirably accurate. The biggest problem is with the compression of time, which is a common fudging in historical movies. PRT Kamdesh was established in that valley because it was a choke point for Taliban weapons and soldiers. It was also conveniently located for the counterinsurgency efforts popular at the time. The movie alludes to the three-part strategy of separating the locals from the insurgents, linking the public to the government, and buying friendship through infrastructure projects. Keating is used to show this, but Keating’s death occurred a couple of years before the battle. He did die in a truck accident as shown in the movie. There were other commanders between him and Yllescas. Yllescas was mortally wounded by a command detonated IED similar to the movie. It appears the Broward character was invented to represent blind obedience to the Rules of Engagement and as a foil for Romesha. Lt. Bundermann was in command on Oct. 3, 2009 when more than 300 insurgents attacked with a variety of weapons including mortars and RPGs. The mortar pit was taken out. The enemy did penetrate the perimeter within 48 minutes and the Afghani National Army soldiers did not put up much of a fight before fleeing. (Think ARVN when you think ANA.) The movie neglects to mention the Latvian soldiers that also manned the outpost. It also does not show the fact that the jihadists set fire to several buildings. The defenders did fall back and it was at this point that Romesha led the counterattack depicted in the movie. He actually did say “We’re taking this bitch back.” His Medal of Honor performance is well-portrayed, except it leaves out his role in coordinating air support. Carter’s arc is also accurate. He did risk his life carrying ammunition and saved Mace. Romesha and Carter were the first two soldiers to survive to receive the Medal of Honor in the same battle in over fifty years. The use of transfusions to keep Mace alive was vetted by Chris Cordova, who was on set for the scenes in the aid station. The movie downplays the amount of time and effort by the helicopters, A-10s, B-1, and F-15s. 8 Air Force Distinguished Flying Crosses were awarded. Portis did arrive with the Quick Reaction Force, but it was at nightfall. Stoney Portis visited the set and admired the authenticity of the recreation. The reconstruction must have been based on memories since the outpost was hastily destroyed two days later.


        • #5
          The Latvian's were mentioned, one is even shown fighting with them before getting wounded during the retaking of the compound story arc.


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