The Outpost

Movie about the attack on an American outpost in Afghanistan held by 50 American troops fighting against over 400 Taliban, based upon the book by Jake Tapper of CNN:

The Outpost

Just watched in on video on demand tonight. Best war movie since Blackhawk Down, IMO.

Orlando Bloom lasts a little longer than he did in Blackhawk Down :)

I watched this yesterday and also found it excellent. Really well done.

Just saw this last night; I had read the book by Jake Tapper a few years back and really enjoyed it.

It was pretty good, especially the climactic final battle (which is about half the move). But because it hews pretty close to the book and thus the true story, it lacks a fair amount of dramatic tension and character building that you would find in a fictional story (though they do succeed a bit with one character).

My main problem with it is the same issue I have with many war movies: it’s really difficult to tell the young, mostly white, buzz-cut characters apart. Blackhawk Down (still a superior movie) had the same problem, but it’s worse in this one mostly because they seemed to go out of their way to cast actors who look like the original marines… they did a great job of this, but their faces mostly wash together. In most scenes you’re not exactly sure who you are looking at, or what their jobs are.

Second issue: The locations were kind of tough to suss out. Again, this movie compares poorly to BhD in this respect – Scott’s establishing shots and occasional overhead “surveillance” cuts gave you a pretty good idea where people were and how they related to one another.

This movie tries really hard to do the same thing (and there is one scene were they explicitly spell out what you’re going to see later on), but somehow it doesn’t work, mostly because there are several locations that look identical and pretty much all the architecture is the same from almost every angle.

Much of the climactic scene focuses on some marines trapped in a vehicle, but it is one of like four such vehicles and there isn’t any real sense of why they are trapped when everyone else seems to be running around between identical cinder-block buildings in the fairly small base.

That criticism aside, I thought that the battle scenes did a great job of showing the danger and the sense of being assailed from all sides with no place to hide. The lead-up to the battle and especially the constant replacement of officers was well-done.

And man but the Eastwood genes are strong – Clint’s son is a dead ringer for his dad, squinty eyes, raspy voice and all.

So does this movie make any attempt to address the geopolitics or is it like Zulu or BHD: the few valiant whites against the swarthy hordes?

I’d say very much like Zulu or BHD in that it’s a story about the soldiers sent to do the job rather than about the decisions that caused them to be sent.

There is a nod or two to the “goals” of trying to win hearts and minds, mostly shown as how hopeless the task was. One cute exchange has a tribal elder scolding the Americans for staying in the country so long - “You’ve been here for 40 years, it’s time for you to go!” Of course he meant the Soviets, but that was kind of the point.

I found the movie to be non-jingoistic (for the genre) and moderately willing to admit faults in the US mission in Afghanistan. E.g the base itself was terribly placed and everyone stationed there knows it, there is a succession of base commanders resulting in no clear or consistent US policy, and the meetings with the local leaders were mostly an exercise in mutual confusion.

I’d say what the movie does best is just the constant sense of looming threat from the mountains that surround the base on all sides. It’s nerve-wracking in a continual and effective way, sort of like how the dark and stone from The Descent were way scarier than any of the monsters that eventually show up.

Also if you watch the series Medal of Honor on Netflix, two of the episodes focus on this.

— Alan

It’s up there with Zulu and BHD as my favorite last stand movies, “swarthy hordes” not withstanding :)